FirstGroup has become the latest company to accelerate its push into driverless vehicles with a partnership with US-based GoMentum Station, a testing ground for autonomous cars.
The FTSE 250 bus and rail operator, said its US division First Transit will use the facility as a test site for a pilot project to deploy the first commercially operated passenger shuttle on public roads in the US.
Its pilot project began in late 2016, and recently launched its second phase of testing in California.
FirstGroup said part of the advantage of these vehicles will be that they can operate in places where it's tricky for a bus to do so, such as in shopping centres where space is constricted.
GoMentum Station is a 2,000 hectare test facility in California, and has been named by the US department of transportation as one of 10 federally designated automated vehicle proving grounds.
Brad Thomas, president of First Transit, said:
The partnership with GoMentum Station allows us to identify new mobility solutions for our customers using shared autonomous vehicle technology.
We see the broad application of this technology as a great first and last mile solution plus countless other transportation challenges.
The driverless car race has been heating up with a range of tech and auto giants investing in the development. And it's not just passenger cars that have captured the imagination either.
Volvo has been testing driverless rubbish trucks, designed for use in cities. And in the capital, a driverless shuttle has been wheeled out for a trial in Greenwich. It travels up to 10mph and is controlled by a computer.
Those behind the shuttle envision it being used by 2019 on a trial basis, with a view to rolling it out further from there.