Judge orders Uber not to use technology taken from Waymo

Adjust Comment Print

Lyft and Waymo, the self-driving auto unit of Google-owner Alphabet, are joining forces to take on Lyft's main rival Uber.

Highlighting the strength of Waymo's case in a high-stakes trade secrets battle against rival Uber, a federal judge has ordered the ride-hailing company to bar a top engineer from working on key self-driving auto technology. This means that Lyft need not work on self-driving cars from scratch instead simply inculcate Waymo's technology in its vehicles.

The New York Times earlier reported on the deal between Lyft and Waymo. In a way, the company with the mustache logo came later than Uber in this field of driverless ride-hailing, but it may have a shot at supremacy due to Google's technology.

The company inked a deal with General Motors a year ago to test autonomous vehicles in the U.S.

A federal judge has ordered Uber to return any driverless auto documents its employees allegedly stolen from Google's Waymo by May 31 as part of a bitter trade secrets lawsuit between the two tech giants, according to an order unsealed by the court Monday morning. But the companies revealed few details about the arrangement. At the time, Uber was forced to admit that Waymo's LiDAR tech was better, and that it had used off-the-shelf components to try closing the gap.

Uber has denied that it has utilized any of the allegedly stolen files, and Levandowski has since stepped aside from running the start-up's autonomous driving division while the case proceeds. And it comes just days after the judge rejected Uber's request to move the case to arbitration, while also referring it for a possible criminal investigation over trade secrets theft.

Uber is the number one USA vehicle service by volume, followed by Lyft, while both Waymo and Uber are developing their own self-driving technologies.

But, the ruling by District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco Monday was mainly a victory for Waymo, the autonomous auto unit spun off from Google, even though the judge refused to order a halt to Uber's autonomous vehicle research as Waymo had requested, the experts said.

Lyft and Uber are also bitter rivals. Lyft, which is privately valued at $7.5 billion, doesn't have the resources to invest in self-driving vehicle technology. Waymo is also partnering with other companies. The Alphabet subsidiary already has a deal with Fiat Chrysler and another one in works with Honda, but teaming up with Lyft could significantly speed up the process of delivering the autonomous driving service to large masses.