Waymo, the self-driving car company owned by Google's parent Alphabet, filed suit against Uber on Thursday alleging that the ride-share company engaged in the "calculated theft" of its self-driving technology. The suit is the latest setback for Uber, still reeling from the viral #DeleteUber campaign and which this week launched an "urgent investigation" into claims of sexual harassment. The lawsuit, filed in US district court in San Francisco, contains explosive allegations that a former Waymo employee, Anthony Levandowski, plotted to steal Waymo's technology and trade secrets before leaving to start his own self-driving truck company, Otto. Uber acquired Otto in August 2016, reportedly for $680m. At the center of the suit is Waymo's proprietary LiDAR system – the "eyes" that self-driving cars use to see other vehicles, the road and pedestrians.
A judge rejected self-driving company Waymo's request Monday to order Uber to stop using technology that may have been stolen, the Verge reported. Waymo filed a lawsuit in February claiming Uber executives who previously worked at Google had taken self-driving technology with them when they left them company. Those individuals, identified as Anthony Levandowski and Lior Ron in court documents, quit working at Google to start their own self-driving car company called Otto. The company was then purchased by Uber in August. The judge granted Waymo a partial injunction and ordered the return of any and all stolen documents to Waymo, and required Levandowski have nothing further to do with the development of the technology.
Alphabet Inc's Waymo sought at least $1 billion in damages and a public apology from Uber Technologies Inc as conditions for settling its high-profile trade secret lawsuit against the ride-services company, sources familiar with the proposal told Reuters. The Waymo self-driving car unit also asked that an independent monitor be appointed to ensure Uber does not use Waymo technology in the future, the sources said. Uber rejected those terms as non-starters, said the sources, who were not authorized to publicly discuss settlement talks. Waymo sued Uber in February, claiming that former engineer Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files before leaving to set up a self-driving truck company, called Otto, which Uber acquired soon after. The precise dollar amount requested by Waymo and the exact time the offer was made could not be learned.
The ride-hailing service Lyft said Monday it will partner with Waymo, Google's self-driving project, adding drama to the race in Silicon Valley to develop an autonomous driving service--a contest that is playing out in courts and in cities across the country. There was little information on specifics of the deal, but it is sure to upset Uber, the market leader. Lyft is the number-two ride-hailing service, and its competition with Uber has been fierce: Lyft once accused Uber of sabotaging its business. Separately Waymo, which operates under Google's parent company, Alphabet, has accused Uber in court of stealing its trade secrets. In that lawsuit, a federal judge on Monday ordered Uber to stop using technology that may have been downloaded by Anthony Levandowski, a former Waymo engineer who is now with Uber.