Google accuses Uber of self-driving theft

Google accuses Uber of self-driving theft

After six months, Uber acquired the tech company for around $680 million, raising more suspicions from a Levandowski's former employer. Waymo alleges in its lawsuit that Anthony Levandowski had stolen technology from Google before resigning from the search engine giant.

The circuit boards for Otto's lidar system, which uses laser sensors to determine objects around the driverless vehicle and how quickly they are moving, bore a "striking resemblance" to Waymo's, the company claims. Even worse, Levandowski (and other employees who apparently also stole data), had already spoken of doing just this. Those submissions showed that Otto said it had its own LiDAR system, described as being very similar to Waymo's.

"This was the final piece of the puzzle: confirmation that Uber and Otto are in fact using a custom LiDAR system with the same characteristics as Waymo's proprietary system", the lawsuit reads.

"Our parent company Alphabet has long worked with Uber in many areas, and we didn't make this decision lightly", Weymo said in a statement regarding its lawsuit.

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A blog post outlining the action explains: "Hundreds of Waymo engineers have spent thousands of hours, and our company has invested millions of dollars to design a highly specialised and unique LiDAR system".

Waymo is now seeking an injunction to return all trade secrets, stop the misappropriation of its designs, and end the infringing of its patents.

Among the evidence is an email sent by a supplier of lidar components that inadvertently copied a Waymo employee. The filing says that the board bears a striking resemblance to Google's own proprietary and highly confidential design and reflects the self-driving vehicle firm's trade secrets.

Additionally, Waymo says that they have found out that prior to Levandowski's resignation, he downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files including designs of the company's LiDAR and circuit board. The design was nearly identical to Waymo's unique LiDAR design, it claimed. An investigation revealed that a former Waymo employee named Anthony Levandowski had downloaded almost 14000 confidential files.

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The complaint claimed Levandowski loaded 14,000 confidential files on to a laptop before leaving to start Otto.

Waymo stated that they "believe these actions were part of a concerted plan to steal Waymo's trade secret and intellectual property".

Levandowski had also been risqué enough to tell colleagues that he was planning to replicate Waymo's technology at one of its competitors.

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