With the first self-driving cars set to appear on UK roads in just a few weeks’ time, autonomous vehicles are inching ever closer to production. A number of companies, however, have already carried out millions of miles of public road testing outside the UK.

Here Google and Nokia reveal exactly what it is that their vehicles see when negotiating roads riddled with traffic lights, road works, other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.

Google’s software plots the road ahead and monitors the trajectory of other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians to avoid collisions and is even smart enough to react differently depending on the type of object around it.

Nokia has gone down a different route by 3D mapping a network of roads in New Orleans. The company’s sophisticated kit records more than 700,000 bits of data – every second – to plot out a lifelike view of the city’s road network.

It may be several years before your car can drive itself, but rest assured the technology needed to make this a reality is progressing rapidly.

Picture: Google / WIRED Science