Judge Rules Uber Can Continue Self-Driving Development

Judge Rules Uber Can Continue Self-Driving Development

Waymo, Google's self-driving vehicle company, and Lyft, the second-largest ride-hailing company in the country, have announced a partnership that could help bring autonomous technology to US streets fast.

While New York represents another step forward in terms of the essential real-world testing of autonomous cars, a few curious rules could hinder its overall appeal.

The ruling could have been much worse for Uber.

However, the ruling did provide partial relief to Uber, when it said that the company cold continue its work on self-driving cars as long as Levandowski was not involved with it. US District Judge William Alsup also barred a key engineer from working on a portion of Uber's self-driving vehicle program.

Significantly, the evidence indicates that, during the acquisition, Uber likely knew or at least should have known that Levandowski had taken and retained possession of Waymo's confidential files. "We welcome the order to prohibit Uber's use of stolen documents containing trade secrets developed by Waymo through years of research, and to formally bar Mr. Levandowski from working on the technology", Raps said.

A Waymo attorney and technical expert will be allowed to monitor Uber's ongoing business.

Waymo had initially made a larger bid to stop Uber's self-driving-car research, claiming that the company was infringing on its patents and trade secrets.

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In anticipation of the judge's ruling, Levandowski said last month he'd step aside as head of Uber's driverless vehicle program and recuse himself from all lidar-related work.

Google's spinoff Waymo, on the other hand, began working on self-driving technology in 2009 and just launched a public pilot program in Phoenix, Arizona in April to chauffeur people around on a daily basis in its own cars. Honda is also said to be interested in a deal, wanting to use Waymo in a series of test cars.

Uber's self-driving program will continue in Pittsburgh as a trade secrets lawsuit against the ride-hailing company continues to make its way through the court system, a federal judge has decided.

Alphabet is suing Uber for stealing proprietary information, claiming Levandowski downloaded 14,000 files before leaving Alphabet to start a new autonomous company that the ride-hail company eventually acquired.

Levandowski formed Ottomotto, a self-driving vehicle startup, on January 15, 2016. Levandowski asserted his Fifth Amendment right to avoid incrimination during the preliminary hearings, but Judge Alsup urged Uber to "to do whatever it can to ensure that its employees return 14,000-plus pilfered files to their rightful owner". Right from the beginning, Uber seemed on the losing side and as expected the judged ordered today that it must stop its self-driving auto service. That deal is now at the center of Waymo's lawsuit against Uber, which is not looking good for Uber. The question as to whether Uber and Levandowski agreed to set up a new company - Otto, which Uber then bought for $680m - in an effort to provide a legal smokescreen for the theft of the technology is left open, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it was the case.

This latest maneuver could be partly down to Waymo's increasingly bitter rivalry with Uber, the undisputed ride-hailing king in the USA market.

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