SELF-driven cars could be used in controlled environments such as airports as soon as 2016, according to researchers from Berlin's Free University.
They claim that removing the steering wheel from in front of unpredictable humans would cut accidents and help the environment.
Professor Raul Rojas, who led the research, foretold: "In the future it will be forbidden for safety reasons for people to drive cars.
"The cars of today are the horses of yesterday.
"In five to 10 years the technology could be applied in private areas like airports, factories or warehouses. On motorways, in 10 to 20 years. In cities, the obstacles could be removed in 20-30 years," he added.
To prove Prof Rojas' point, the team unveiled the fruits of their work on the "Made in Germany (MIG)" vehicle, which uses cameras, lasers, heat sensors and satellite navigation -- even while inside tunnels -- to "see" other vehicles and pedestrians and respond to traffic lights.
The researchers claimed that removing the need for a driver will mean people will use vehicles more like taxis or pool cars.