Ford promises to put thousands of robocars on the road by 2021.

Meanwhile, some 90,000 Teslas already have Autopilot, which gives the Model S and Model X many of the features people consider autonomous.

The technology, which Tesla Motors introduced with an over-the-air software update in October, allows the cars to accelerate, maintain lane position, change lanes and even park without any input from the driver.

Rubbish, says CEO Elon Musk, who insists the technology saves lives.

A man in Florida died in June when his Model S slammed into an 18-wheeler after Autopilot and the driver failed to hit the brakes.

The company said Autopilot-enabled cars had covered 130 million miles without a fatality, compared to a national average of one fatality every 94 million miles.

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