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Does the drive toward autonomy that global OEMs and suppliers are supporting through research, development, testing, prototyping and cubic volumes of investment have a market demand? Based on results from a recently conducted survey in Germany, the U.S., China, and Japan by Tier One supplier Continental, in Germany and the U.S., it is pretty much a coin flip — and that's about as good as it gets for autonomy in those two countries.

In response to the statement "Automated driving is a sensible advancement," 53 percent in Germany agreed, and 50 percent in the U.S. Not exactly a ringing endorsement in either case.

In China: 89 percent are on board with the advancement.

Then there is the question of fright that is inevitably related to robot vehicles. In Germany, 62 percent agree with the statement "Automated driving scares me somewhat." In the U.S., 77 percent agree. We're not talking about amusement park rides here but technology that is ostensibly meant to be a means of getting from point A to point B.

In China, the number of those scared is just 28 percent.

As for how well the technology is expected to work out, in Germany 57 percent agree with the statement "I don't believe that it will function reliably." In the U.S., perhaps the 77 percent who are frightened feel that way because they don't think it will work: 77 percent also agree that it won't be reliable. Still, when more than half of the respondents in Germany don't think it will be reliable, then there is a long way to go to get acceptance.

The Chinese, again, are more positive: 40 percent are concerned about reliable operation.

Another interesting finding in the Continental study is that familiarity doesn't seem to be making things better in the U.S. Or perhaps things like the unfortunate Uber accident has given people more pause.
In a survey conducted in 2013, 66 percent of Americans agreed with the statement "Automated driving scares me somewhat," 11 points below the 2018 response.

And as for "I don't believe that it will function reliably," only 50 percent agreed with that statement in 2013, not the 77 percent in the latest survey.

Clearly, there is a strong cohort of people in the U.S. who are not likely to get into an automated vehicle.

Meanwhile, over in China, the difference in attitudes between 2013 and 2018 have all gone to the positive for automated driving. In the five years, there are 10 points added to the "sensible advancement"; a 24-point decrease in the number saying they are somewhat scared; and a 34-point decrease in the number who are concerned with reliability.

Should automated driving break out in China in a big way before it does in Germany or the U.S., there should be little surprise, at least based on what Continental has found.

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