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Independent Expert Says Waymo Self-Driving Technology Used By Uber


11/08/2019


Independent Expert Says Waymo Self-Driving Technology Used By Uber
It is likely that a licensing deal with Waymo will be arrived at by the ride hailing company Uber or it could resort to acquiring autonomous driving software through other costly changes, the company has said.
 
This announcement was made by the company after it was discovered by an expert that technology from the Alphabet Inc unit Waymo was still being used by the ride-hailing giant.
 
The production of autonomous vehicle technologies of Uber could be limited or delayed because of a change in its current strategy for software development, the company said in a quarterly securities filing. In the area of the development of self driving software and hardware to install in cars and trucks to allow for driverless taxi and delivery services, Uber has been racing to catch up to Waymo.
 
A settlement of a court case between Uber and Waymo that was reached in February of 2018 mandated that an expert review Uber's software. The settlement of the case by the two companies also ended a federal jury trial that was ongoing over whether the ride hailing company had used and gained from illegally using confidential ideas of Waymo that were allegedly stolen by former engineer of Google’s self driving subsidiary who had later joined Uber. 
 
Google has started Waymo as a project within about a decade ago, while Uber’s effort at development of self driving technology is just four years old.
 
Uber declined to give details beyond its filing.
 
Waymo's allegations that Uber misappropriated our software intellectual property were further confirmed by the finding of the independent software expert, Waymo stated. “We will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure our confidential information is not being used by Uber,” Waymo said.
 
No proprietary information of Waymo had been used by Uber in its hardware or software, Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi had said confidently last year.
 
However later this year in April, just before the company was to launch its initial public offering (IPO), Uber accepted that the findings of the independent expert software reviewer were mixed and could prove to be costly for the company.
 
Allegations that Uber was ”misappropriating two, highly valuable Waymo trade secrets related to planner software,” which processes data from sensors on the vehicle and controls its movement, were made by Waymo in court filings in 2017.
 
This revelation is also partly responsible for a more than 40 per cent drop in the share price of Uber since its IPO in may this year. The company has also been making huge quarterly losses because of its large spending on marketing.
 
Other challenges have also affected Uber’s self-driving venture.
 
Opinions expressed by in a recent report by the United States National Transportation Safety Board claimed that the self-driving test vehicle of Uber that struck and killed an Arizona woman in the middle of a road last year had software flaws in it.
 
However despite these challenges, an investment of $1 billion from SoftBank Group Corp, Toyota Motor Corp and automotive company Denso Corp was made in Uber in April this year.
 
(Source:www.thehindubusinessline.com)