Science

Judge orders Uber not to use technology taken from Waymo

Judge orders Uber not to use technology taken from Waymo

The ruling by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, unsealed on Monday, marked a blow to Uber, which is engaged in a battle with Waymo to dominate the fast-growing field of self-driving cars expected to revolutionize the automotive industry.

Waymo sued Uber in February alleging that the ride-hailing company is using stolen self-driving technology to build its own fleet of autonomous cars.

Waymo won a ruling that may strengthen its trade-secrets suit against Uber Technologies Inc even as the Alphabet Inc unit fell short of its goal to bring its rival's driverless-car programme to a standstill.

Alsup also ruled that Uber must by next month complete an investigation into the downloaded Waymo documents and provide Waymo with a comprehensive log of written and spoken communication between Uber and Levandowski regarding Lidar. Uber must now return those documents either to Waymo or the court by end of May.

Alsup wrote that Waymo "has made a strong showing that Levandowski absconded with over 14,000 files" from the company when he left previous year to form his own startup, Otto LLC, that was then acquired by Uber.




Uber was also ordered to distance Levandowski from any form of work that directly involves the self-driving technology called Lidar, the centerpiece of this whole high-stakes legal war between the two companies. Uber was ordered to return all downloaded materials to Waymo by noon May 31. Evidence showed that Levandowski and Uber planned the acquisitions before Levandowski left Waymo, Alsup's order said. In fact, Samsung and its partner Hyundai last week had just secured a clearance from the South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport allowing the electronic titanand the vehicle manufacturer to begin their run for self-driving automobile tests.

Levandowski, who is not a defendant in the civil case, has asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and has refused to testify.

What Happens To Uber's Self-Driving Efforts?

The company had sought to shut down Uber's autonomous vehicle program completely until the dispute is settled.

Uber said in a statement Monday that it's pleased the court allowed it to continue the research, including its own Lidar innovations.

Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving auto company, has signed a deal with ride-sharing service Lyft to develop new autonomous vehicle technologies. Lyft, for the uninitiated, is Uber's direct competitor. The probe, combined with other legal and image woes, will reduce Uber's value and in the worst case could threaten the San Francisco company's existence if investors leave, criminal charges bring huge fines and legal action stalls autonomous auto research, legal experts have said.


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