On March 13, 2018, an Uber manager reportedly sent an email to company executives, alerting them to the safety concerns of the self-driving car software, the high rate of self-driving car accidents, and the “dangerous behaviour” of the backup drivers, according to a new report from the Information. Five days later, an Uber self-driving test car, occupied by a backup driver who may have been watching The Voice, struck and killed a cyclist in Tempe, Arizona.
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Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto drivers might want to watch out — Alphabet-owned autonomous vehicle firm Waymo just won the right from the California DMV to deploy its cars to those cities, without the characteristic human safety operators that have been a hallmark AV testing.
Anthony Levandowski, the controversial former Google engineer at the center of the major lawsuit between Uber and Waymo over trade secrets last year, is the subject of a new extensive, scathing, head-spinning story featured in this month’s New Yorker. One of the many incredible details is an alleged crash where Levandowski took a self-driving car where it wasn’t meant to go, resulting in a Google exec getting severely injured.
If you already rely on ridesharing services to run errands or grab groceries, a self-driving car that shuttles you to pick up your pre-bagged tailgate party snacks may sound like a no-brainer. And that's essentially what Waymo is up to: In Phoenix, Arizona, Waymo is expanding its self-driving car program by targeting the customers of Walmart, the Element Hotel, and Avis. Newly announced deals with those companies could help Waymo prove its cars are more than just a Silicon Valley pipe dream.
When it comes to autonomous driving, car enthusiasts are first in line to nix the idea. There's a bit of an overarching fear that, one day, human drivers could be rendered unnecessary and manually controlled driving is banned altogether. But even the CEO of the company with the most advanced autonomous driving fleet on the road today believes humans will always have the choice to take the wheel if they please.
Halfway through a contentious trial, Waymo settled its high-profile lawsuit against Uber in a deal that gives Google's parent company Alphabet $US245 million ($315 million) in Uber equity - a slightly larger stake than Google already has - and allows Waymo to keep tabs on Uber's self-driving car program.
For years, Uber systemically scraped data from competing ride-hailing companies all over the world, harvesting information about their technology, drivers, and executives. Uber gathered information from these firms using automated collection systems that ran constantly, amassing millions of records, and sometimes conducted physical surveillance to complement its data collection.
The drama surrounding an explosive letter written by former Uber employee Richard Jacobs keeps heating up, with Uber executives testifying in court today to try to undermine it.
We are in the midst of a pretty historic moment. Leaping ahead of the competition, Waymo has announced that its self-driving cars will no longer use a human safety driver while they are tested on the roads of Phoenix. But the even bigger news is that the company is gearing up to launch the first commercial driverless taxi service. Yup, the time has come.
Waymo, the self-driving car unit owned by Google's parent company Alphabet, is now about a month away from its trade secret trial against Uber, and things are starting to get a little messy. Waymo planned to argue that Uber stole nine of its trade secrets and used them in its own self-driving cars in order to cut corners and catch up to the rest of the industry. But the judge in the case just threw out one of Waymo's secrets, along with the expert witness Waymo planned to rely on for evaluating how much Uber should owe in damages.
Waymo, the self-driving car group born out of Google's secretive moonshot unit and recently spun out as its own company, has made a bunch of self-driving cars - around 100 of its current Chrysler iteration, with another 500 in the works, not to mention probably a lot more than that in the future. Yesterday, Waymo let a gaggle of reporters ride around in said Chryslers at its test facility without putting anyone behind the wheel, giving us a first look at what our driverless future will look like.
Self-driving test vehicles are already on the roads in several US states, including California, Arizona and Massachusetts, but the futuristic world of robot cars on every street hasn't materialised quite yet. People are still freaked out by the idea of getting in a car that doesn't have anyone behind the wheel -- and so companies in the autonomous vehicle business are launching their own charm offensives to convince consumers (and members of Congress) that their cars will make the world a safer place.
Waymo's trade secret lawsuit against Uber has so many twists and turns, it's hard to keep up with it all. But there's one key document that both sides of the case have been fighting over for a long time -- the due diligence report Uber commissioned when it was considering the acquisition of Anthony Levandowski's self-driving truck startup, Otto.