Engineers working on Uber’s self-driving car project may be idled if Waymo has its way.
Waymo is the autonomous-vehicle subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.Waymo alleges that Uber’s project is based on stolen Waymo technology.Waymo has now called for a preliminary injunction to “prevent defendants from misappropriating Waymo’s own technology to cheat and distort competition in this nascent market.”
Waymo doesn’t accuse Uber of stealing the technology.Rather, it says that a former Waymo employee, Anthony Levandowski, took 14,000 confidential documents with him when he left Waymo in January 2016 to start a competitor, Otto.Uber acquired Otto in August 2016, hiring Levandowski to head its self-driving-car project.
The technology includes a feature called LiDAR that allows self-driving cars to use cameras and other devices to detect features of the surrounding environment.
"We have reviewed Waymo's claims and determined them to be a baseless attempt to slow down a competitor and we look forward to vigorously defending against them in court," Uber said.
The preliminary injunction, if granted, could force a halt in Uber’s development efforts in the highly competitive self-driving-car market.The injunction is just the latest step in a lawsuit that Waymo filed last month.