Tag: waymo

Uber self-driving case takes a dark turn

The US judge overseeing the self-driving car technology case has said that Uber could face an injunction if a key Uber executive does not testify.

Google’s Waymo sued ride services company Uber last month, alleging that its former executive, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded over 14,000 confidential documents before leaving the company to join Uber.

Waymo is seeking a preliminary injunction from the court, which would temporarily stop Uber from using any of the allegedly stolen intellectual property.

Uber, which has said the allegations are baseless, has not yet responded to Waymo’s complaint in court, and has argued that the trade secrets issue should go to arbitration.

But Uber has fallen foul of District Court Judge William Alsup who told Levandowski’s lawyer that his client was in a mess.

Apparently Levandowski is worried his client could face criminal action and would be asserting his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Uber said that it would like to put Levandowski on the stand, because “he has a good story to tell”,  but could not force him. But were the case sent to arbitration, Levandowski might choose to testify, because arbitration proceedings are not public.

“I’m sorry that Levandowski has got his — got himself in a fix. That’s what happens, I guess, when you download 14,000 documents and take them, if he did. But I do not hear anybody denying that,” Alsup said.

Uber’s strategy would be to convince the court that Uber was “not using any of these things” Waymo says he stole.

“That would be a legitimate point,” responded Alsup. “Maybe you can convince me of that.”

But Alsup warned Uber of its difficulty in dodging a preliminary injunction in light of Levandowski’s Fifth Amendment privilege.

“If you think for a moment that I’m going to stay my hand because your guy is taking the Fifth Amendment and not issue a preliminary injunction to shut down that … you’re wrong,” Alsup said.

Alphabet sues Uber over self-driving car tech

Old carsAlphabet’s Waymo self-driving car unit sued Uber’s autonomous trucking subsidiary Otto over claims that it stole confidential and proprietary sensor technology.

Waymo claims Uber and Otto nicked confidential information on Waymo’s Lidar sensor technology to help speed its own efforts in autonomous technology.

Waymo’s complaint in the Northern District of California said that Uber’s LiDAR technology is actually Waymo’s LiDAR technology.

Uber said that it is considering the allegations.

Lidar, which uses light pulses reflected off objects to gauge their position on or near the road, is a crucial component of autonomous driving systems.

Previous systems have been prohibitively expensive and Waymo sought to design one over 90 percent cheaper, making its Lidar technology among the company’s “most valuable assets,” Waymo said.

Waymo is seeking an unspecified amount of damages and a court order preventing Uber from using its proprietary information.

Otto launched in May, due in part to the high profile of one of its co-founders, Anthony Levandowski, who had been an executive on Google’s self-driving project.

Waymo said that before Levandowski’s resignation in January 2016 from Google he downloaded over 14,000 confidential files, including Lidar circuit board designs, thereby allowing Uber and Otto to fast-track its self-driving technology.

Waymo accused Levandowski of attempting to “erase any forensic fingerprints” by reformatting  his laptop.

“While Waymo developed its custom LiDAR systems with sustained effort over many years, defendants leveraged stolen information to shortcut the process and purportedly build a comparable LiDAR system in only nine months,” the complaint said.

 

Waymo shows off self driving white mini-vans

 

adrian_googly_eyesWaymo is showing off the self-driving mini-vans which will mean that White Van men will disappear from roads.

While they will probably be mourned in the same way that the end of smallpox was mourned, it will be another job which will have been lost to machines.  Until Waymo works out a way to make them swear and knock cyclists off their bikes.

Waymo, which is a Google spin-off, will be deploying its fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans onto public roads for the first time later this month.

The minivans will be hitting the roads in Mountain View, California and Phoenix, Arizona, where the company’s self-driving Lexus SUVs have already driven thousands of miles over the past few years.

The outfit showed off its self-driving Pacificas, which have been under wraps since the deal between Google and Fiat Chrysler was first announced back in May 2016.

Waymo says that for the first time, its producing all the technology that enables its cars to completely drive themselves in-house. That means for the first time, the Google spin-off is building all its own cameras, sensors, and mapping technology, rather than purchasing parts off the shelf.

This means the outfit can have more control over its self-driving hardware, as well as bring the cost down to ridiculously cheap levels.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik said that by building its own LIDAR sensors the company cut 90 percent off its costs and sensors that Google purchased for $75,000 back in 2009 now only cost $7,500 now.

Rumor has it that Waymo and Chrysler will eventually launch its own autonomous ride-sharing service to compete with the likes of Uber and Lyft, possibly by using Google’s Waze mapping service.

Krafcik said Waymo was looking at ride-hailing, logistics, personal transportation, and last-mile business.