Tesla AutoPilot crash hasn't hurt perception of self-driving cars

Is it still true that there's no such thing as bad publicity?

According to a pair of surveys from AlixPartners and the Boston Consulting Group obtained by Automotive News, all the ballyhooing about the first death at the wheel of a semi-autonomous car hasn't had much effect on the general public's opinion on the cutting-edge tech. The first study, from AlixPartners, looked at responses from 1,500 Americans earlier this month and found interest in self-driving tech dropped three points.

Awareness of systems like Tesla's AutoPilot actually went up. According to the survey, 81 to 85 percent of respondents were aware of the tech compared to 71 to 76 percent from a similar survey AlixPartners conducted in the weeks before Joshua Brown's fatal accident. That's not just true for the technology, it's true for the manufacturers, too. According to AlixPartners, respondents trust self-driving tech from a Silicon Valley company like Tesla more than they do from a traditional automaker.

Boston Consulting's survey was more expansive – it still surveyed 1,500 drivers, but spread the sample across the US, Germany, and China. BCG found that the number Americans and Germans that are willing to sample a fully autonomous car went down to 48 and 41 percent, respectively. That's a slight dip from a year ago that's more than made up for by increases in China – 81 percent of drivers in the PRC would give a self-driving car a spin, up from 75 percent a year ago. These national differences aren't necessarily surprising – Germany and the US have deeply entrenched car cultures that date back generations. China doesn't, which explains at least some of the big difference in these numbers.

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