Self-driving technology company Waymo and Uber go head to head after dispute over stolen self-driving technology | Photo Courtesy of Recode

Self-driving technology company Waymo and Uber settle their court case

Google’s subsidiaries, Uber and Waymo, a self-driving technology company, found themselves in a San Francisco courthouse over accusations of stolen technology for self-driving cars.

A three-week trial starting Feb. 5 concerning Uber vs. Waymo has come to an end. The two companies have agreed on a settlement to officially close the case.

Former Waymo employee Andrew
Levandowski pictured next to his
own self-driving truck company
Photo Courtesy of The New York Times

The controversy began after a former nine-year Waymo engineer,

i, left the company to co-found a self-driving truck company, Otto, in Jan.  2016. During the federal lawsuit, Waymo convicted Levandowski of downloading special software to download more than 14,000 copies of documents prior to his departure. This rounds up to about ten gigabytes of “highly confidential documents.” Uber later bought Otto in Aug. 2016. Although having suspicions of stolen self-driving technology prior to the Uber purchase, Waymo’s suspicions increased.

Waymo claims Levandowski has used the stolen information to build his own self-driving truck for Otto.

On Dec. 13 2017, an email of what appeared to be Uber’s lider circuit board machine drawings was accidentally copied onto Waymo’s email. The image of Uber’s circuit board highly resembled that of Waymo’s.

Waymo accuses Uber of stealing a circuit
board crucial to function of self-driving car
Photo Courtesy of Wired

Waymo also accused Uber of having a supply-chain manager and hardware engineer stealing more documentation before they left their jobs at Waymo to join Otto.

The stolen information was about a system, LiDAR, that allows a self-driving car to essentially see where they are going and navigate themselves. Waymo, founded in 2009, has been around far longer than its competition and has led the way for self-driving technology. Their LiDAR system is well-advanced and extremely operational.

A statement made by Waymo explains the remaining stolen trade secrets included “confidential supplier lists, manufacturing details and statements of work with highly technical information.”

The case was closed Feb. 13 as Waymo walked away with  a pledge from Uber to never use the stolen trade secrets and a 0.34% stake in the company.

Although the case is over, Waymo and Uber suffer from damaging PR following the prolonged situation.

Written by Jana Ariss

Jana is a Senior at MC and the Co-Editor in Chief of The MC Sun.

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