waymo, google, google waymo

Yesterday, Google’s spin-off self-driving division Waymo alleged that the core technology being deployed by Uber in their autonomous vehicles infringed on their patents. And now, Uber is firing back at Waymo saying that their claims are “baseless” — which indirectly means to say that the former is acting as a sore loser for not making it to the public trial stage before them.

In a statement emailed to Business Insider, an Uber spokesperson says,

We are incredibly proud of the progress that our team has made. We have reviewed Waymo’s claims and determined them to be a baseless attempt to slow down a competitor and we look forward to vigorously defending against them in court.

In the meantime, we will continue our hard work to bring self-driving benefits to the world.

The said statement clearly mentions that the ride-hailing giant sees this lawsuit as a frivolous intervention in their operations. Google, who has been working on self-driving technology for the last five odd years, now alleges that the former self-driving division employee named Anthony Levandowski has passed on their valuable intellectual property to his current employer — Uber.

Levandowski is currently heading Uber’s self-driving efforts at their Advanced Technology Center in Pittsburgh. He was appointed to the said role after his self-driving truck startup Otto was acquired by the ride-hailing giant for $680 million earlier last year. Otto was started by him, along with Lior Ron, Don Burnette, and Claire Delaunay in January 2016.

The primary basis for Waymo going after Uber is the specialized LiDAR technology developed by their self-driving engineering team. One of their suppliers has now intimated them of the “striking resemblance” in the circuit board designs for the sensing mechanism.

In a Medium blog post, Waymo details that they’ve allegedly found evidence of Levandowski’s questionable moves days before he had handed over his resignation. They believe that he downloaded over “14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo’s various hardware systems.” 

The blog post has further added that he installed specialized software on his Google-issued laptop to take off with about 9.7 GB of trade secrets, including blueprints, design files, and testing documentation. It also states that though Levandowski tried wiping any forensic fingerprints but his web searches, downloads, and external hard drive left behind digital footprints.

Further, this is an important and thought-out process on Google’s part as the two technology giants have a long-standing relationship. Google’s venture capital arm, Google Ventures, has poured in over $200 million into Uber over the years. And this makes the lawsuit even more surprising and challenging.

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