Two of the biggest names in self-driving vehicles — indeed, two of the biggest names in technology — are embroiled in a massive lawsuit, and the outcome may reshape the burgeoning industry. And as the lawsuit plays out in court, things are getting weird: Uber just strong-armed its own employee.
Here’s everything you need to know. The back story
Waymo — a part of Alphabet, which owns Google — filed suit against Uber back in February, alleging that the ridesharing service stole some of its proprietary autonomous-car tech. Waymo began as Alphabet/Google’s self-driving car project years ago, and was spun off into its own company.
In Waymo v. Uber, the plaintiff claims a former employee named Anthony Levandowski stole proprietary files — 14,000 of them, to be exact — and used them to start a new company. The company in question is Otto, the autonomous-driving tech startup acquired by Uber last August for $680 million. Otto demonstrated a self-driving semi truck late last year.
The lawsuit alleges unfair competition, patent infringement, and trade secret misappropriation. It also claims the allegedly stolen technology earned Otto employees more than $500 million. Waymo asked a federal judge to put an end to its rival’s self-driving […]