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Autonomous driving technology has garnered a lot of attention around the world in the past few years, and Asia-Pacific is no exception. Tech giants such as Alibaba, Baidu, Didi Chuxing and SoftBank are investing in the technology with the hopes of capitalizing on self-driving cars at some point down the road.
According to a Rakuten AIP survey of internet users in select countries from August 2017, awareness of self-driving or autonomous cars was above 80% in several markets in Asia-Pacific, including China, India and Singapore. Japan was an outlier, where only 66% of respondents were aware of the technology.
China and India were the market leaders in terms of actual usage of self-driving cars. According to the survey, 5% of respondents in each country said they had ridden in an autonomous vehicle, but did not own one.
The survey also found mixed interest across Asia-Pacific in using a fully driverless car. Attraction was highest in India, where 85% of those polled expressed a desire to ride in an autonomous vehicle. China was second at 82%, followed by Singapore (59%) and Japan (43%).
Driverless cars seem to hold an especially strong appeal in China. A survey by McKinsey & Company in March 2016 found that 90% of consumers in China were willing to switch automotive brands for access to better autonomous driving features. By comparison, 56% of respondents in the US and 49% in Germany said the same.
That makes sense given how invested China-based tech giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (collectively known as BAT) have become in the burgeoning sector. Baidu is viewed as the front-runner in self-driving technology. The company has developed its own open-source driving platform, known as Apollo, and recently formed a joint venture with China-based automaker Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC) to launch an autonomous car in two years.
On-demand transportation platform Didi Chuxing is another China-based firm that has made no secret of its global autonomous driving ambitions. In March 2017, the company set up a research and development center in Silicon Valley focused on “intelligent transportation ecosystems.”
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