Google has been beavering away developing a self-driving car for several years, but it has now patented technology that can recognise cyclists’ hand signals and anticipate their next moves.

Using a combination of radar, lidar and camera systems, the new tech is set to help autonomous vehicles safely negotiate cyclists on the road.

Google has now explained that its kit works by keeping track of riders’ hands and their position relative to the cyclist’s head, to assess whether the biker is signaling to turn left, right or making a dropped left hand signal, which in North America indicates that they are planning to stop, the Washington Post reports.

With cars already able to brake themselves to avoid other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and other obstacles and with sophisticated cruise control systems that allow them to maintain a safe distance behind cars in front, it’s only a matter of time before a completely autonomous vehicles appear in showrooms.

Take a look at the video above to see what Google’s self-driving cars can already do.

Video: Google