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Uber Says It Didn’t Know about Waymo Data Theft Before Lawsuit


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When District Judge William Alsup asked some questions about the recent lawsuit regarding self-driving technology which the company might have stolen from Waymo, Uber responded that nobody at the company knew about any taken proprietary information from Waymo until the latter filed the lawsuit. To clear things up, Waymo is the self-driving unit belonging to Google’s parent company Alphabet. Recently, it sued the ride-hailing giant over theft of trade secrets regarding self-driving technology. The two companies are rivals in this area and are both trying to bring autonomous vehicles to the market.

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Uber claims it didn’t know about the stolen technology

This entire scandal began after Anthony Levandowski, a very important engineer which led Waymo’s self-driving project, left this company and funded its own, called Otto. This was an autonomous trucking company which Uber later bought. Now, Waymo is saying that on his way out, Levandowski “forgot” to return some key documents full of information regarding the self-driving technology. Most of those had to do with Google’s proprietary LiDAR design. Now, Waymo is also claiming that Uber actually used this design in its own autonomous driving technology.

Maybe the biggest controversy regarding this situation is whether or not Levandowski downloaded those files before leaving Waymo. Also, who he shared them with and if Uber knew everything about it and didn’t say anything. Waymo’s side of the story is that the ride hailing company knew about what Levandowski did. According to them, there is a meeting which took place on March 11, 2016. Back then, Levandowski told the Uber executives, including then-CEO Travis Kalanick, about some Waymo material he had discovered. However, in its filing, Uber strongly denied that claim. Instead, the company said that it had no idea about Levandowski’s schemes.

A very complex situation

According to Uber’s filing, Levandowski told them that he had the discs with the Waymo material in his home from the time he worked there. He never said how he got them in the first place. This is why Uber supposedly told him it wants nothing to do with them. After the 2016 meeting, Levandowski reportedly told people at Uber that he had destroyed the discs. On the other hand, Waymo is accusing the ride-hailing company of engaging in a messy cover-up.

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