Google's autonomous prototype has been one of the most talked-about car concepts (Photo: Google)

Google is the most influential player in the public discussion about autonomous driving, according to a recent market survey.

The survey, which was conducted by US market researchers Appinions, ranked Google number one, followed by chipmaker Intel, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz. Rankings 5 to 8 were taken up by Audi, Nissan, BMW and Volvo.

Appinions said its study "found Google to be far and away the leader of the '10 Most Influential Companies' in the autonomous cars sector." It based its ranking on how often a company is mentioned in news reports, blog posts and in social media.

The market researchers also looked at influential personalities in the autonomous-driving discussion. Here too, Google was at the top of the list, with the internet company's director of autonomous cars, Chris Urmson, ranked one and Google co-founder Sergey Brin in second place. Also cited as top players were GM North America President Mark Reuss, Daimler board member Wolfgang Bernhard, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Zipcar founder Robin Chase.

Appinions said the list of personalities shows that autonomous-driving innovation can come from IT companies, carmakers and startups.