France could be the first country to have fully autonomous cars on the road next year. The Associated Press reported that French companies Delphi and Transdev will partner to create taxi and shuttle services that transport passengers without a driver.

The testing will start with on-demand driverless vehicles in Normandy and a van service that will shuttle passengers between a train station and the campus of the University of Paris Saclay. The route between the campus and train station is aimed at addressing a "first mile-last mile" gap in public transportation, getting people from their final destinations and start points to public transit.

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The services will begin with humans on board to give instruction before the planned fully autonomous phase in 2018. This would be the first completely driverless program on open roads.

The Normandy taxis will be Zoes, the electric mini-cars made by French automaker Renault.

Transdev is a company that provides mobility services and operations in 19 countries including the U.S. Seventy percent of the company is owned by France, while 30 percent is owned by Veolia, a transnational conglomerate that works in water and waste management and energy services.

Delphi is a U.K.-based tech company that focuses on automotive and transportation. Delphi’s driverless system is being developed with Israeli company Mobileye and is in partnership with U.S. multinational tech company Dell.

“This latest announcement will help accelerate the development of commercially viable automated vehicle solutions,” said Glen De Vos, Delphi senior vice president and chief technology officer in a statement.

“With Transdev’s deep understanding of mobility operations, this collaboration will further strengthen our (automated on demand) and data management capabilities, while expanding our automated driving platform to include a variety of different vehicle types. As a result, we’re confident this collaboration brings us closer to providing all of our customers and partners with an affordable, reliable and scalable automated driving and mobility-on-demand platform.” 

The partnership hopes to scale up its operations to eventually provide its service throughout France in 2019. They also have their eyes on moving the operation to other countries including the U.S.

Stateside there are several driverless car pilots underway as the race to be the first and best automated car maker to market heats up. In January in Las Vegas, French company Navya tested a public bus with the city’s transit operator, Keolis, another French company.

In Boston, tech company nuTonomy is testing driverless cars in a closed setting and the city will allow them to expand the pilot onto open roads.

Last year, Google began testing its Waymo driverless car in Arizona. Cruise Automation, a start-up acquired by General Motors, has been testing its technology in Arizona and San Francisco.

Read: Are Driverless Cars Safe? Automotive Vehicles May Cause Over-Reliance

Ride-hailing app giant Uber has been testing its driverless cars in Arizona, as well as San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Uber’s program is part of a $300 million partnership with Swedish automaker Volvo.

Ford has been testing its fleet in Arizona, Michigan and California. The American automaker hopes to roll out driverless cars to market by 2021.

RTX39G3X Autonomous car from Delphi Photo: Stephen Lam/REUTERS