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Google’s Waymo sues Uber for stealing driverless technology

EPA / RITCHIE B. TONGO

Ride-hailing company Uber is facing a lawsuit for allegedly stealing self-driving technology from Google’s driverless car subsidiary Waymo. On Thursday, the self-driving unit, founded by Alphabet in 2009 and named Waymo last year, sued Uber in San Francisco.

“Given the overwhelming facts that our technology has been stolen, we have no choice but to defend our investment and development of this unique technology,” Waymo said.

The lawsuit accuses former Waymo self-driving engineer Anthony Levandowski of “downloading 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files” while he worked for the company and using the information to co-found a driverless truck start-up.

Levandowski founded self-driving venture Otto in May 2016 after leaving Google. The company was then acquired by Uber in July 2016 for $670 million.

According to a blog post published by Waymo, the files which Levandowski allegedly downloaded include designs for “various hardware systems, including designs of Waymo’s LiDAR and circuit board.” Waymo considers LiDAR , or “Light Detection and Ranging,” a major part of its self-driving technology. The system uses laser beams to detect what is surrounding the driverless vehicle, thus making it aware of the movement of other cars, as well as pedestrians.

Waymo stated reaching the decision to sue Uber wasn’t easy since its parent Alphabet has cooperated with the ride-hailing service, but it had to “defend” its technology.

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