April 2 was the first day that self-driving cars could legally drive on the streets of California without a human safety operator inside them. As the Silicon Valley-based outlet The Mercury News put it, the day should have been historical.
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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.
Since Waymo sued Uber in February, alleging a massive theft of trade secrets related to its self-driving car technology, Gizmodo and our sister site Jalopnik have aggressively covered the case. Waymo's claims are damning -- the Google-incubated company says one of its leading engineers downloaded tens of thousands of confidential documents before quitting his job and then used those documents to develop autonomous vehicle systems at Uber.
Waymo, the self-driving car company spun out of Google, just scored a major win in its ongoing legal battle against Uber. Waymo is suing the ride-hailing company, claiming that a former Waymo employee stole trade secrets about its autonomous vehicle technology and took them to Uber, where Uber then incorporated them into its own cars.