Google and Uber are embroiled in a legal battle regarding whether or not the latter stole Waymo’s (a self-driving car subsidiary of Alphabet) tech to create its own autonomous vehicles. The companies have taken it to the court and in a rather strange turn of events, one of the key witnesses have gone missing.
The last two days saw Uber and Google lawyers battling it out over who would be allowed to view the trade secrets Google claims stolen. If you remember, Google is claiming that these secrets were stolen by Otto Co-founder Anthony Levandowski (among others), who was a manager at Waymo, left to found Otto and then joined Waymo post its acquisition of the former. Uber today said that the company has been unable to locate one of the other employees, who are also said to have participated in the theft.
Waymo claims that Anthony Levandowski downloaded over 14,000 sensitive documents and used them for his own startup, Otto. The material stolen included the crucial LiDAR technology, which forms the crux of self-driving systems of the present. Waymo claims to have realized that Uber was using a LiDAR system suspiciously like theirs after a supplier accidentally attached images og Uber’s syste, in a mole to Waymo.
Apart from the Otto founder, Waumo has also laid the blame upon Radu Raduta and Sameet Kshirsagar, who are said to have stolen a few documents apiece while at Waymo, and then gone on to accept jobs at Uber. The company points at the cab aggregator’s meteoric rise in the field — from no autonomous cars to having them pick passengers up in a few months — as proof that the company was using stolen tech.
Meanwhile, in a turn of events that will probably be beneficial for Uber, Radu Raduta has gone totally off the radar. Uber’s attorney Arturo Gonzalez told as much to the courts besides adding that the engineer’s whereabouts were unknown.
Uber could attempt to wash its hands of the matter and claim that the matter belongs solely between Google and Levandowski and should be resolved as such, without bringing Uber into it. That is not really likely to happen however, it might buy the company sometime as it debates what to do next.
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