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  • Writer's pictureNATALIA SOUSA

New Study by Continental suggests, Automated Driving Is Gaining Acceptance Worldwide.

According to a new study carried out by Continental, driver assistance systems and automated driving are gaining acceptance worldwide. In China and Japan, openness to the benefits of automated driving is already high. However, people in Germany, France and the USA appear to have a wait-and-see attitude. Overall, the technological possibilities in automated driving are far more advanced than the current willingness of drivers to use them. However, the situation is different for driver assistance systems – here, there is a consistently high degree of openness in all five countries, especially when it comes to safety-related functions. The latest Continental Mobility Study, in which the social research institute infas surveyed representative samples of around 1,000 people in each of the five countries above regarding their mobility habits.

“The high level of confidence in driver assistance systems indicates that as these become more widespread, confidence in automated driving will automatically grow. Furthermore, our experience has shown that acceptance increases as people get to know and understand the functions in question. Extensive testing is, therefore key. This should be carried out in real-life traffic conditions in order to understand how people interact with the systems. In turn, this will provide important findings that can be incorporated into the further development of the technology,” says Frank Petznick, head of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems business unit at Continental.

What is clear from the survey is that most drivers tend to sit at the car's wheel out of conviction. Although new technologies are essential to them, fully giving up control is still unimaginable for many people. In Germany, France and the USA in particular, most respondents indicated that they would be reluctant to hand over control of the wheel to technology. More than half of those surveyed in each of the three countries believe that automated driving is useful and a little frightening. This view is particularly noticeable in the USA, where 75 percent of respondents are concerned about the issue – significantly more than in the other countries surveyed. At the same time, this figure has not changed since 2018.

The large contrast compared to the Far East is striking. In China and Japan, people have much more positive view of technology. For example, 91 percent of respondents in China and 82 percent in Japan consider automated driving a useful development. In addition, 79 percent (China) and 67 percent (Japan) expect the technology to become a permanent feature of everyday road traffic in the next five to ten years.

There is a lot of agreement across the countries regarding the current arguments against automated driving: in all countries, around 80 percent of respondents say that legislation has not created a relevant framework for technical development on the manufacturer side. They also argue that policymakers should establish central guiding principles for use in daily road traffic.

Continental says it is driving forward research and development in the area of assisted and automated driving – intending to make the mobility of the future along with its new functions and services more secure, environmentally friendly and driver-centred. The technology company currently occupies a strong position in developing advanced driver assistance and automated driving systems. In the period from 2018 to 2020, Continental says it has received orders amounting to more than €9 billion. In addition, Autonomous Mobility, an independent business area within the organization, will be dedicated to the future topic of automated and autonomous driving from 2022.

The focus will also be on components and systems for driverless taxis. These are being tested in public spaces as part of municipal collaborations, such as at the Bavarian garden show in Lindau since spring and as a field trial this summer in Tokyo, and in the fall in advance of the ITS World Congress in Hamburg with the Continental Urban Mobility Experience (CUbE) test platform. Frank Petznick: “It is precisely such approaches that make the possibilities of automated driving more tangible for people and further build confidence in the technology.”

Distinct openness to new comfort and safety functions

There is no lack of general openness to technology among the people in the five countries surveyed. In fact, most of those in Germany, France, the USA, China, and Japan are already open to handing over subtasks such as parking completely to assistants or being supported in traffic by technology, for example, by a turn assist system. People in China (91 percent) appreciate right-turn assist systems that specifically protect cyclists and pedestrians from turning vehicles. However, there is also a great deal of interest in this development in the other four countries surveyed – more than 70 percent of all respondents would like to use a turn assist system in road traffic. In Japan, the deciding factor here is price.

In comparing the five countries surveyed, the idea of fully handing over parking to an autonomous assistant is found to be particularly appealing in China (more than 90 percent). Although between 62 and 64 percent of respondents would like to use this technology in Germany, France, the USA, and Japan, their decision depends on the price of the driver assistance system. In China, price plays a role for only five percent of respondents, while the corresponding figure is 21 percent in Japan.

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