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In the middle of a two week trial, news of a settlement shocked reporters and courtroom observers, who had all come to watch the Uber v. Waymo trial drama unfold, in real life, in San Francisco. And while Waymo's billion dollar demand went unfulfilled before trial, Uber was willing to break off about a quarter billion dollars worth of equity and a public apology (if you could call this Uber blog post a public apology).
The self-driving technology case involved trade secret violations relating to Waymo's self-driving tech. It was alleged that Uber poached Waymo's employee, who downloaded a bunch of files before leaving and was involved in developing Waymo's tech personally.
The Art of the Self-Driving Deal
The settlement terms that are known seem to imply that Uber won't stop using the tech they have developed, but will stop using any confidential resources the poached employee brought along. Additionally, Uber will be paying Waymo, handsomely, in equity, making their one time adversary an ally, but one that is still technically an adversary. Uber is a strange company, but sometimes motivation to settle can be easily deduced.
Interestingly, Uber seems to staunchly maintain that no trade secret information was ever brought over from Waymo. And even more interestingly, the employee that Uber allegedly poached, who is alleged to have brought the confidential trade secret information along with him from Waymo, was scheduled to testify this coming Monday. One reporter believed he would have tried to plead the Fifth, which would have resulted in even more courtroom drama. Sadly, Uber decided to pay a quarter billion dollars worth of stock to cancel the running daytime drama that has been this case, leaving viewers with a cliffhanger ending that'll probably get picked back up after a few seasons.
What's Going on With Self-Driving Cars Anyway?
It looks like we're still a few years off full autonomous self driving cars and taxis, at least, legally. Apparently, there is some testing already going on across the country, and more testing is scheduled to begin over the next few months. The details are always sketchy, but there are tests going on in 25 cities.
Unfortunately, the self-driving vehicles being tested are only "level 3" vehicles, meaning the car is self driving, but requires a human to be sitting behind the wheel. Level 4 and 5 systems delete these requirements, so as to have a fully autonomous self-driving vehicle.