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Waymo v. Uber Reached A settlement

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Both sides in the Waymo v. Uber lawsuit have reached a settlement, and the case is being dismissed with prejudice. Judge Alsup granted the motion to dismiss, and with that, the case is, in his words, “ancient history.” 

 Waymo gets 0.34 percent of Uber’s equity at the company’s $72 billion valuation, which works out to a value of around $245 million. Waymo had originally sought a $1 billion settlement last year before the trial got underway, but Uber rejected that deal. Both sides are responsible for paying their own legal fees. “This is all equity; zero cash,” said a source familiar with the settlement. Meaning, Waymo is invested in Uber’s future.

According to a source, Uber cannot use any of Waymo’s hardware or software trade secrets as one of the conditions of the settlement. That’s interesting, especially since the trade secrets at the heart of the case were all related to hardware. Judge Alsup had instructed Waymo to bring a separate lawsuit against Uber if it wished to block the company from using its software.

Uber sees this as a big win, especially since it clears the deck for the company ahead of its expected public offering and avoids years of costly appeals and lastly, the settlement reflects the difference between Uber’s old and new leadership.

Waymo vs Uber Revolves Around Allegations of Deceit, Betrayal, espionage & A High-Tech Heist

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Waymo sued Uber, accusing it of ripping off key pieces of its self-driving car  technology in 2016. Uber paid $680 million for a startup run by Anthony Levandowski, one of the top engineers in a robotic vehicle project that Google began in 2009 and later became in Waymo.

Google was also an early investor in Uber, the relationship eventually soured. Its parent company Alphabet also owns Waymo.

Waymo has drawn a sordid picture, contending that Levandowski stole thousands of documents containing Google trade secrets before defecting to Uber. Waymo says Levandowski conspired with former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to use the pilfered technology in Uber’s own fleet of self-driving cars.

Uber has boldly denied the allegations in the civil case, which has also triggered a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s not clear whether that probe is focused on Uber or Levandowski, who has consistently exercised his right against self-incrimination and is expected to do so again if called to testify during the trial.

Levandowski’s refusal to relinquish his Fifth Amendment rights eventually led Uber to fire him last May, even though he had developed a close relationship with Kalanick.

The stakes in the trial are humongous. Waymo is demanding damages estimated at nearly $2 billion. It also wants a court order that would prevent Uber from using any of the technology that it says was stolen, a move that could hobble the ride-hailing service’s push to design self-driving cars.

The courtroom drama will feature an intriguing cast of characters. The list of expected witnesses includes both the combative Kalanick and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Gurley, an early Uber backer who later helped engineer Kalanick’s departure as Uber’s CEO. (Kalanick resigned under pressure last June.)

Two of the world’s richest people, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, may also be called to testify about the importance of Waymo’s self-driving project and Levandowski’s role in it.

Both Waymo and Uber each will have only have a total of 16 hours to make their case. That time restraint could prove more daunting for Waymo. It will have to educate a 10-person jury about the intricacies of the eight trade secrets that Uber is accused of stealing, then prove the ride-hailing service used the technology in its vehicles or improperly shared it with others.

The lawsuit has already established internal documents and sworn testimony that exposed spying programs and other shady tactics deployed by Uber to expand its business.

Furthermore, Uber has acknowledged allowing rampant sexual harassment to occur within its ranks, a yearlong cover-up of a major computer break-in and a $100,000 ransom paid to the hackers, and the use of duplicitous software to thwart government regulators.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup has emphasized that Waymo faces the difficult challenge of proving that the ride-hailing service used stolen technology in its self-driving cars.

 

Governor Cuomo Taking Applications To Test Self Driving Cars

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state is now taking applications to test self-driving cars on public roadways. The program requires licensees to have a $5 million insurance policy. Cars must also pass federal and New York automotive safety standards and all test reports must be submitted to the state by March of next year.

U.S. Department of Transportation Designates 10 Automated Vehicle Testing Sites

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has designated 10 proving ground pilot sites to encourage testing and information sharing around automated vehicle technologies.  These proving ground designations will foster innovations that can safely transform personal and commercial mobility, expand capacity, and open new doors to disadvantaged people and communities.  These designations are a logical next step in the Department’s effort to advance the safe deployment of automated technology.

Automakers and tech companies will share data with each other and the government as they test their autonomous vehicles at these sites, the agency says. The proving grounds are intended to test autonomous vehicle safety and handling in a variety of road conditions. This group will openly share best practices for the safe conduct of testing and operations as they are developed,

The Proving Ground designees are:

  1. City of Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute
  2. Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership
  3. U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center
  4. American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run
  5. Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) & GoMentum Station
  6. San Diego Association of Governments
  7. Iowa City Area Development Group
  8. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  9. Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners
  10. North Carolina Turnpike Authority

 

 

 

 

Singapore’s Self driving Cars

Founded in 2013 by ex-MIT engineers, Nutonomy announced a $3.6m funding round in January, followed swiftly by $16m in funding in May from venture capitalists including Ford chairman Bill Ford and the Singapore government.

Like Uber and Google, Nutonomy is convinced that the real benefits of autonomous technology will be when humans never have to touch a steering wheel or brake pedal

U.S. Agency Told To Slow Down On Self Driving Cars

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Engineers, safety advocates, and automakers say federal regulators eager to get self-driving cars on the road must slow down.

Fully self-driving cars may be the future of the automotive industry, but they aren’t yet up to the demands of real-world driving, several people told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration during a public meeting Friday. Issuing new regulations take an average of eight years. The agency can’t wait because early self-driving technologies are already in cars on the road. For instance,Tesla’s “autopilot” function, enables its cars to automatically steer down the highway, change lanes and adjust speed in response to traffic.

A General Motors official recently told a Senate committee that the automaker expects to deploy self-driving cars within a few years through a partnership with the ride-sharing service Lyft. Google, a pioneer in the development of self-driving cars, is pushing Congress to give the NHTSA new powers to grant it special, expedited permission to sell cars without steering wheels or pedals.
Concerns addressed at the meeting:
  • Poorly marked pavement, including parking lots and driveways, could foil the technology, which relies on clear lane markings.
  • Bad weather can interfere with vehicle sensors.
  • Self-driving cars can’t take directions from a policeman.
  • Inconsistent traffic-control devices such as horizontal versus lateral traffic lights.
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Mercedes Unveils It’s Self Driving Car @ CES 2015

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