Science

Uber says never used Waymo files on self-driving

Uber says never used Waymo files on self-driving

Interestingly, this particular supplier has also worked with Waymo in the past.

Things are still looking pretty bleak for Uber.

Uber acknowledged this in a legal filing on Friday, in which the company responded to bombshell trade theft lawsuit filed against it by rival Google in February.

Waymo, the driverless auto arm of Google, sued Uber in February, accusing it of using trade secrets that had been smuggled away by former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski. He did this before setting up his own company, Otto. Four months later, he co-founded Otto, which was then acquired by Uber in August for $680 million. That part is LIDAR.

Lidar sensors bounce light off objects to create a three-dimensional map of a car's surroundings. The suit alleges that it looks very similar to Waymo's.

The secrets are related to lidar, a technology that uses laser beams to detect objects and send the images to the self-driving car's computer for processing.

A temporary injunction granted to Uber would translate into a total stagnation when it comes to self-driving technologies.

The allegations put forward by Waymo arguably represent the biggest threat to Uber's long-term financial survival - more so than the harassment scandal or any of the other controversies that have enveloped the company in recent months. "Waymo doesn't meet the high bar for an injunction, which would stifle independent innovation and competition".

Levandowski is now the head of the self-driving cars division at Uber, and his departure from Google is fuel to a whole corporate lawsuit against the San Francisco-based company.

Waymo filed suit against Uber in February, claiming that a former manager, Anthony Levandowski, stole its patented ideas. For comparison, Velodyne's most advanced lidar sensor costs as much as $75,000 a pop.

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"You're not denying it, no one is denying he has the 14,000 files".

More specifically, after conducting a search, Uber argues the files never touched its servers.

"We're asking the court to step in based on clear evidence that Uber is using, or plans to use, our trade secrets to develop their lidar technology, as seen in both circuit board blueprints and filings in the state of Nevada", the company said in a statement.

"If you can not find them in your files there is going to be a preliminary injunction".

Alphabet says Uber is stonewalling - and a USA judge said he agrees. To limit the damage from this ruling, Uber simply issued a response. Waymo specializes on auto developing systems.

This trial could be spell trouble for Uber. The company filed a motion last month requesting that the disputes around trade secrets be resolved in private arbitration instead of public court. Uber also points out that Waymo could have sued Levandowski personally, but it chose not to.

When Levandowski's lawyer said at a hearing Thursday that Waymo is trying to get a hold of records about Uber's acquisition of Otto that are protected by a confidentiality pact, the judge questioned the need for such an agreement.

Uber has been hit with a major setback.

"Waymo's injunction motion is a misfire", Angela Padilla, Uber's associate general counsel, said in a statement.

Uber said it was shocked by the ruling and that it would appeal immediately, seeking suspension of the ruling. "Both of its central premises-that former Waymo employees brought thousands of confidential Waymo documents to Uber to build a copycat LiDAR and that Uber's LiDAR closely mimics Waymo's single-lens design-are demonstrably false", Uber said in Friday's filing.


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