Monday, 29 May, 2017

Uber hits back at claims it copied Google's driverless vehicle tech

Ex-Google Engineer Was Paid Almost £100M Before Heading To Uber Uber says its self-driving technology differs from Waymo's
Mae Harvey | 13 April, 2017, 02:16

Uber told a federal judge Friday that it didn't use stolen trade secrets for its driverless-car project, and therefore the court shouldn't force the company to stop that work. Waymo, Alphabet's autonomous vehicle subsidiary, is accusing Uber of stealing files that detail designs for self-driving technology. According to Waymo, Otto founder Anthony Levandowski took the information while employed at Waymo before leaving to launch an autonomous truck startup, Otto.

Mr Levandowski is reported to have used these documents when co-founding Otto, a self-driving truck company that Uber past year acquired in a $660m deal.

Waymo filed suit against Uber in February, claiming that a former manager, Anthony Levandowski, stole its patented ideas.

In August 2016, Otto was bought by Uber over an undisclosed amount and that's when Waymo, a company extracted from Google accused the ride-hailing company of stealing their technology.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco has ordered Uber to do a more thorough search of its computer systems to see if the documents are in its possession.

What's more, Uber says its custom-designed LiDAR system hasn't even been installed on the self-driving cars that it has been testing in Pittsburgh, Arizona and San Francisco.

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In a court filing with heavily redacted technological details, Uber adds that by late 2015 it had chose to develop a customized lidar system with an unspecified collaborator, and began work on a custom beam pattern.

Before Levandowski defected from Google early past year start Otto, Waymo alleges he downloaded more than 14,000 documents containing trade secrets that is now helping Uber.

On the other hand, Uber's ground for arbitration is that the lawsuit stems from the actions of Levandowski while he was with Alphabet, and hence it should be covered under Alphabet's employee agreement with him. Alphabet's opposition suggested Uber is seeking to delay proceedings, including a hearing on an injunction Alphabet wants against Uber and to prevent public access to proceedings.

After buying Otto, Uber put Levandowski in charge of Uber's self-driving project, a job that has been imperiled by this lawsuit.

Uber's second line of defence is that the LiDAR technology it is developing is completely different to the tech detailed in the documents allegedly stolen by Levandowski. Levandowski's lawyers - not Uber - had attempted to use a broad application of the Fifth amendment in part to to block the report from being included in court, according to the New York Times.

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