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Uber in hot mess in the Trail between Waymo and Uber

Things don’t look good for Uber and autonomous vehicle wunderkind and former Google engineer , Anthony Levandowski, who is accused of having stolen many confidential documents regarding self-driving car trade secrets to help bolster its own autonomous driving ambitions.

Uber
 has had a terrible week in its legal brawl with Waymo.First it suffered the public reveal of a long-awaited report that appeared to confirm Uber knew its former superstar engineer, Anthony Levandowski, took intellectual property from Google, his former employer, before it hired him. Secondly irrespective of Uber’s protest, the judge pushed the trial date back from this month to December, giving Waymo more time to prepare its case.

In building an autonomous vehicle the biggest challenge is giving the car the ability to see the world. It requires a thorough understanding of lidar, the radar-like system of lasers that creates the digital map each car needs to navigate the world safely and competently.Doing this demands a serious investment and expertise. Waymo, has said hundreds of its engineers spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars perfecting the company’s lidar which had been stolen by former employee Anthony Levandowski who is alleged to have downloadeded 14,000 technical files from a company server, then used the information to launch the autonomous truck startup Otto. Uber acquired Otto a few months later and tapped Levandowski to lead its robo-car program.

This trial brings into light that Levandowski and Uber executives had informal chats at least six months before the engineer left Waymo, and that Levandowski had possession of Waymo documents at least two months after he departed the company. According to report, the investigators were unable to verify his account as Levandowski has refused to cooperate with Uber’s lawyers withholding his 5th Amendment Right.

Waymo could try to prove that its information helped Uber develop its self-driving cars, even if the final product looks nothing like Waymo’s.Whatever their tactic of choice, Waymo’s lawyers have two months to marshal more evidence and win over the heart of Judge Alsup who is executing the judgement over this case.

This case is a highlight of Industrial Espionage and Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights.

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