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Waymo Claims Uber “Cover Up” of Project Based on Stolen IP

Uber's self-driving Volvo cars being loaded on an Otto truck.Uber's self-driving Volvo cars being loaded on an Otto truck.
Uber's self-driving Volvo cars being loaded on an Otto truck.Courtesy: Uber

Alphabet subsidiary Waymo on Friday asked the judge in its case against Uber to bar Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber’s self-driving car research, from further participating in that project. Waymo claims that new evidence shows conclusively that Uber “used Waymo’s intellectual property to develop LiDAR devices for self-driving cars,” and that it engaged in a “cover-up” during the case, concealing documents and resisting court orders.

Uber has presented the court with information about a LiDAR design known as “Fuji,” whose four lenses distinguish it from the single-lens design supposedly detailed in the Waymo documents Levandowski is accused of stealing. But Waymo now says an earlier LiDAR sensor, designated by a code name redacted from the public filing, was designed by Levandowski and “infringes Waymo’s patents.” Moreover, Waymo claims that Uber has misled the court and plaintiff by concealing the device.

Based on this and previous evidence, Waymo says Uber “should be enjoined from continuing to use Levandowski in its driverless car program”.

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Waymo’s initial suit alleges that Levandowski took proprietary files with him when he left Waymo to found Otto, the autonomous truck startup quickly acquired by Uber and folded into its own autonomous vehicle program. According to Bloomberg, the presiding judge has said Waymo’s case is strong.

Among the evidence that Waymo reiterates in the current filing is that certain components of even the later “Fuji” sensor are “nearly identical to those in Waymo’s [device].” The filing also questions the timeline of Uber’s development process, which it suggests was far too fast to have been truly independent.

A spokesperson for Uber told TechCrunch that the second device never even reached the prototype stage, and that it was shown to Waymo.

(The filing can be read in full courtesy of Forbes. The claims about Levandowski and the cover-up begin on page 14 of the document.)