Cars of the future on UK roads could have their speed controlled by a computer, with drivers denied even the option of breaking the limit, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The newspaper said the government is examining the results of research into “intelligent speed adaptation technology” carried out by the Institute for Transport Studies at Leeds University.

The system reportedly builds on devices already well known to road users: speed-limiters, such as those already fitted on coaches and heavy lorries, and satellite positioning, as found in anti-theft trackers and in-car navigation. By combining the two technologies, cars can be controlled remotely.

According to the newspaper, the institute installed the system on 20 cars, and programmed speed limits on to an in-car digital map. For the first month, drivers were told of the speed limit, but were left to decide whether to observe it.

For the following four months, the car was forced to slow down as the technology took over control of the accelerator pedal, the report said. Then, for a final month, the driver was given full control of the car again.

The Daily Telegraph said the purpose of the research, according to the Department of Transport, was to examine how the technology affected driver behaviour.

The paper noted there are no plans to make it compulsory. For the time being, at least, transport officials have ruled out another version of the system which could use roadside beacons – already in operation for some road-charging systems – to send signals to a passing car and ensure that it remained within the speed limit.

However, companies such as Siemens reportedly are experimenting with a consumer version of the product which, it is believed, may appeal to motorists. One potential market would be the driver who has amassed a number of penalty points on his or her licence and wants to avoid disqualification.

By adding speed limit data to existing satellite navigation systems, the driver could be told of the limit and then be forced to stick to it as the flow of fuel to the accelerator was controlled, the Daily Telegraph said.

An alternative use would be to link the speed-limiter to an anti-theft tracker. Thus it would not only be possible to locate a stolen car, but also make it impossible for the thief to take it above a pre-set speed, such as 20 mph, the paper added.

In its simplest form, a driver would need only a speed-limiter and a receiver, normally a small black box similar in size to a mobile phone, capable of picking up the satellite signal, the report said.

“It just needs the box to know where you are,” Andy Reeves, a product manager with Siemens, told the Daily Telegraph. If the system was produced on a large scale, it could cost as little as £100, he added.