Uber ordered by US judge not to use technology taken from Waymo

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U.S. District Judge William Alsup on Monday released a previously sealed order laying out the evidence that led him to seek a criminal probe into claims that Uber stole self-driving vehicle technology from Alphabet Inc. unit Waymo, saying the ride-share giant "knew or should have known" that secrets had been taken. The company recently filed a lawsuit over Uber's alleged use of stolen Waymo trade secrets and intellectual property to develop its technology.

"Waymo has also sufficiently shown. that the 14,000-plus purloined files likely contain at least some trade secrets". Waymo accused Levandowski of downloading thousands of documents and using the findings at Uber. The ruling appears to be one that leans in Waymo's favor and stipulates that former Google employee and Otto founder Anthony Levandowski can no longer work on any projects that involve LiDAR technology. Under the ruling, Uber can continue to operate its fleet of autonomous cars on public roads in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and California, but it still faces a criminal case ahead about allegations that it stole Google's self-driving secrets. "Lyft's vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo's self-driving technology reach more people, in more places".

As part of the order, Uber is ordered to hand over the 14,000 documents to Waymo by May 31. "The court has also granted Waymo expedited discovery and we will use this to further protect our work and hold Uber fully responsible for its misconduct".

And in yet another challenge for Uber, the company's main competitor in the ride-hailing market, Lyft, announced last week that it would be partnering with Google and Waymo on a collaborative self-driving research program between the Uber rivals.

Eventually, driverless cars will probably be able to replace all human drivers of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, but the conclusion leaves us with a few questions.

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"We look forward to moving toward trial and continuing to demonstrate that our technology has been built independently from the ground up", the spokesperson added.

Alsup referred the case to the U.S. Department of Justice for investigation of possible trade secret theft on Thursday, when the ruling was released under seal. Waymo said the thief was Levandowski, a onetime star engineer at Google and a guru of autonomous vehicle technology, who joined Uber past year.

Uber wanted to avoid an injunction against its self-driving auto development program at all costs. In an email, a Lyft spokeswoman said, "We can confirm that we are partnering with Waymo to safely and responsibly launch self-driving vehicle pilots".

A U.S. judge has allowed Uber to continue with its development of driverless vehicle technology in a high-profile case brought against it by Google's Waymo.

While Alsup's order is the third blow to Uber in the week, it is by far the lightest. In addition to having made tremendous progress towards developing the hardware and software needed by a mass-market self-driving system, Waymo and Tesla are unique in terms of the number of miles their self-driving solutions have racked up, which gives them a huge and growing amount of real-world driving data that can be used to optimize their autonomous driving algorithms.