Uber, Apple Keep Self-Driving Car Under Cloak Of Secrecy

Does that make Google the People’s Champ?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There’s a lot of buzz about the future of autonomous cars, but opinion among the general population is still iffy. The Drive is a huge proponent of getting behind the wheel; we’re also geeks, and dig autonomous vehicles from a tech standpoint. Self-driving cars (and buses, etc.) can do a lot for the commuting public and drastically reduce traffic. But are they what people actually want?

That’s what Uber and Apple execs are working out. And both technology trailblazers are keeping advancements under wraps until the public becomes more comfortable with the idea of self-driving cars. Larry Burns, an engineering professor at University of Michigan and former GM exec, has some ideas about it.

“If I buy a 4,000-pound car that can accelerate from zero to 60 in three seconds, I have a side effect on a person who buys a 2,000-pound car that accelerates in 14 seconds,” Burns said in an interview with The Atlantic. “I call that ‘second-hand physics.’ I think at some point people are going to start asking these second-hand physics questions.”

Uber and Apple aren’t ready to answer them. Google, on the other hand, has decided to take a very different route: It’s been tweeting and blogging, putting out press releases about its every progress in the field of autonomous vehicles. Which then brings up another, even juicier question: Is Google’s self-driving program, which has taken the brunt of negative reception from the anti-autonomous crowd, actually the most car-guy-friendly?