On Thursday, Waymo published a blog post explaining that they were filing a lawsuit against Uber for stealing their designs for parts of their self-driving car, including their LiDAR system. Now, Uber has put out a statement about the claims made by Waymo, and essentially called them "baseless". The full statement is below:
"We are incredibly proud of the progress that our team has made. 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. In the meantime, we will continue our hard work to bring self-driving benefits to the world."
Now it makes sense for Uber to go ahead and call Waymo's claims baseless, especially if they don't want to settle with Waymo or lose a court case. But they do look somewhat similar. Now this could very well be just a case of people that used to work at Waymo, now working at Uber and Otto, but it could also be a case of stolen designs and LiDAR designs being used at Uber. Waymo actually detailed how they found out about this, which took quite a bit of work and it appears that Waymo does have plenty of evidence to back up their claims. It's currently unclear when the case will head to court, but Waymo has said that they would be willing to settle the case with Uber, as they don't want to stifle competition nor innovation in the self-driving space.
According to Waymo, a few former employees had downloaded thousands of confidential design documents – which took a bit of hackery to do actually – before they had resigned or left the company. In fact, one of those employees had told his coworkers that he would head to a competitor and create the same LiDAR setup that Waymo had (at the time, they were still the Self-Driving Car Project under Alphabet's X division). Which if this can be proven, it basically confirms that this person had planned to use these designs at another company, like Uber. It's going to be interesting to see how the whole thing plays out in the coming weeks. Having two of the biggest players in the autonomous car industry heading to court against each other is a pretty big deal, and could actually have some rather large repercussions for both companies as well as the industry as a whole.