Alphabet has accused Uber, and his freight company Otto, of stealing some of its key technologies.
In a lawsuit filed in a San Francisco court, Waymo, the Alphabet division devoted to self-employed cars, said that Otto and Uber stole the company’s intellectual property “in order to save itself the risk, time, and expenses related to the development of their own technologies “.
Waymo has asked the jury that Uber and Otto be prohibited from using the technologies, and compensation for the theft of industrial secrets and patent violations.
One of the most important parts of Waymo’s autonomous driving technology is LiDAR’s (Light Detection and Ranging) implementation, which works by sending and bouncing millions of laser emissions on objects around the vehicle. By measuring the return time, it is possible to create a 3D image of the environment.
After millions of dollars and thousands of hours of work invested, Waymo has made the LiDAR technology more accessible, and especially cheaper, without losing reliability, in fact increasing it.
The way they discovered the industrial theft was through an accidental email from one of their suppliers, who attached a file with the diagram of one of the printed circuits that are part of the components of the Otto LiDAR. The problem? It is extremely similar to Waymo’s.
Waymo also states that six weeks before the resignation of a former employee of the company, he downloaded 14,000 highly confidential documents, with designs of various hardware components of the company, including the LiDAR radar and printed circuit in question.
The company accuses this ex-employee of installing software on his laptop, to obtain sensitive information from the company. In total they calculate that it downloaded 9.7 gigabytes of data. They also say he is not the only one who left the company and went to Otto stealing confidential information from the company, including supplier lists, manufacturing details and other highly technological data.
Uber leaves one problem to get into another.