Uber settles driverless car case with Alphabet-owned Waymo

10 February, 2018, 04:40 | Author: Darrell Baldwin
  • Waymo Uber settle trade secrets dispute Uber CEO expresses'regret

The trial opened Monday, and much of the attention focused on testimony from the former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who resigned last June but kept a seat on the company's board.

Uber has similar ambitions, Khosrowshahi said.

In a statement on Friday, Khosrowshahi expressed "regret" for Uber's actions.

The case hinged on Waymo's ability to show not only that Levandowski had taken Google's private source code, but that Uber had used it improperly to catch up with rivals.

To put things in perspective, the total settlement-$245 million-is slightly more than Levandowski's $120 million compensation at Google, about the same amount of money Levandowski made in Uber stock during the Otto acquisition, or roughly one-third of what it cost Uber to acquire Otto from Levandowski in the first place.

What remains unclear is whether the lawsuit or the verdict actually impacts Uber's self-driving vehicle strategy.

The lawsuit cost Uber precious time in its self-driving auto ambitions, a key to its long-term profitability. The settlement comes after a year of legal jousting, although the trial between the two companies lasted just a few days. He later co-founded an autonomous trucking company called Otto which was then bought by Uber.




At the heart of the debate is one of the hottest trends in tech: self-driving cars.

Waymo, the self-driving auto unit spun out of Google's parent company, Alphabet, argued that Uber had colluded with a former Google engineer to steal technology related to laser-based sensors, a key component in self-driving cars.

Google's Waymo is the widely acknowledged leader in self-driving technology. But it does add another unusual twist to the Uber-Waymo relationship. It was born out of the Advanced Technologies Group based in Uber's Pittsburgh engineering office. Should Uber have been be found guilty, its own self-driving endeavors might have been placed on indefinite hold. While the technology is sophisticated, it is available for purchase from suppliers such as Velodyne.

A trial to decide the case, which started earlier this week, has been dismissed by the judge.

The price of the settlement may have been the clincher. The company has been valued at $72 billion, which means Waymo stands to collect hundreds of millions of dollars. Uber had rejected those terms, it said. Over the a year ago, you've been distracted from your mission. The company's executives, pushing full throttle on making Uber the most popular and dominant ride-hailing service, had cultivated a hyper aggressive culture that took little notice of regulations and standard business protocol. For former Uber C.E.O.

Waymo's lawsuit said that one of the company's former engineers, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files containing designs for autonomous vehicles in December 2015 before he went on to work at Uber in 2016, leading the ride-hailing firm's self-driving auto unit.

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