By now, everyone aware of the happening within the tech world knows Uber and Waymo are currently embroiled in a heated court argument to judge whether the former built its self-driving technology on schemas stolen from the latter. They’ve already met at the court a handful of times, where Waymo was seen dealing punches and Uber trying to defend against them. And today, both of them are destined to meet again to discuss the fate of the ride-hailing giant’s self-driving operations.
Uber Technologies is facing the wrath of the U.S district judge and will appear before the same to not back down and be pressured into giving up due to a competitor. The ride-hailing giant will fight for its right to continue operating its self-driving operations that are being conducted under Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group.
The company has already gotten rid of the former Googler who is at the center of this action sequence — Anthony Levandowski. He, along with a handful of other former executives of Alphabet’s spin-off self-driving division Waymo, have been accused of leaving the company with heaps of internal secrets and documents in tow. Levandowski was heading Google’s self-driving efforts at the time. He has been alleged of stealing 9.7GB of Waymo’s highly confidential files and trade secrets, including blueprints, design files and testing documentation — over 14,000.
But, how Uber defends the integrity of its autonomous technology in court today, would be the most important question you should ask right now. Waymo started off by filing a patent infringement lawsuit against the ride-hailing giant but followed the same with an injunction. It demanded Uber’s self-driving vehicles to be taken off public roads and their trials dismissed because of the use of their technology in their LiDAR sensor and other infrastructure.
If Waymo proved their technology was stolen and Uber couldn’t defend itself by proving that it did not conspire against its rival with Levandowski then it could have some gruesome consequences for them. The company’s brand has already been partly destroyed by sexual harassment allegations, Kalanick’s altercations, and secret revelations.
Now, Waymo is gunning for the other half, which has been considered an important pillar for the company’s growth. Uber has been an influential player in the self-driving segment, but progress has been almost negligent. And the self-driving operations are close to being shut down, while the court proceedings continue. The final strike would come at a time when most automobile and tech giants are pairing up to perk up their ambitions of kick-starting autonomous mobility efforts.
The decision is being led by U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup in San Francisco federal court. He has already warned Uber of being secretive and not upfront in the court proceedings. Alsup has even mentioned that he’s never seen a record this strong in 42 years, indicating the simple direction this lawsuit could eventually take. He has been strict with the ride-hailing giant, rebuking both Uber and their current executive Lewandowski — who pleaded his Fifth Amendment right — of hiding behind shadows.
While Waymo has accused Uber of stealing several of their technology, which was first implemented in Levandowski’s self-driving truck startup Otto that was later acquired by Uber, judge Alsup has been dealing blows of his own. He has even instructed the ride-hailing company to hand over the acquisition info for the same, which Uber had previously stated was hidden due to non-disclosure agremeents between the two companies.
Thus, we may possibly have enough evidence against Uber but the company will be given one final chance to protect the self-driving operations from beine shut down. Judge Alsup will today decide whether Uber needs to halt the self-driving program until they meet next time, which has been set for October, or not. There is also the chance that the ride-hailing giant has provided enough info to see itself walk out of the court unscathed — proving no potential trade secrets were violated.The decision might not come today but we’ll learn about Alsup’s inclination in court.