Google has announced a driverless bus service in the US, in what is being billed as a “major breakthrough”.
The service, which will offer the option of taking passengers on its bus in autonomous mode, will start in 2019, the company said in a blog post.
The company has launched the pilot program in several states, including Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Florida, where it will provide an alternative to public transport.
The service will be operated by private companies, with the public taking the bus and driving the vehicle, Google said.
Google’s partnership with private bus operator NextBus and its partnership with Lyft and Uber, along with the launch of its own driverless fleet, are the latest moves in the tech sector to push towards driverless technology.
The company previously announced a pilot project with US state transportation agencies, including Florida, Nevada and Texas, that will provide the public with a way to ride the public transit system.
However, the driverless vehicles, which can be used for rides that have already been booked, will not be able to travel through the system, meaning they will not have the ability to provide service on a “stop and go” basis.
“We are proud to announce that NextBus will be partnering with the United States Department of Transportation to offer this service,” the company wrote in a statement on Tuesday.
“This partnership will help expand public transportation options for people who are currently stuck on their cars or have to travel with an older, slower, more expensive vehicle.”
Google’s pilot will be based in Denver, where the company will provide driverless transportation to and from NextBus headquarters.
The service will not operate in San Francisco, which is home to Uber, but will instead be run by the San Francisco Public Transportation Authority, which also operates the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.
NextBus will operate in California, Nevada or the US Virgin Islands.