Among the first significant lawsuits in the field of self-driving cars was filed by Waymo, a start-up owned by Alphabet (a Google company) that focused on self-driving cars.
The defendant in this legal action is Uber, the ride-sharing giant, and the accusations that were made involve the LiDAR system employed by the future self-driving trucks used by Otto, another start-up company, which is now owned by Uber. This might seem puzzling, but it is not complicated at all, and you shall see why in the paragraphs that follow.
According to Waymo, one of their former employees used his company-issued laptop to download over 14,000 proprietary design files from company servers. The download was done using specialized software, which was searched for and installed on the password-protected laptop by the Waymo employee shortly before submitting his resignation letter.
Evidently, he was not supposed to download highly confidential files on his notebook, not to mention the use of the unspecified “specialized software,” and doing so with 9.7 GB raises suspicion from miles away.
Since he worked for a tech company, he tried to wipe the evidence from his laptop, but the connection of an external drive to the device was not buried, and the company’s servers had logs that he could not edit.
Waymo representatives say that other former employees of the company downloaded additional files, including supplier lists, and other vital elements of this sort, and all of those people now work for Otto and Uber, Medium notes.
Curiously, Waymo did not discover the theft of intellectual property until they were accidentally CC’d into an email from one of their suppliers that work with LiDAR technology.
The unspecified supplier wrote an email to Uber regarding its LiDAR system, and Waymo employees noticed that the machine drawing that they received from the third party had a striking resemblance to its design. Waymo officials stated that it was not easy for them to make the decision to sue Uber and Otto, but they feel that they have no alternative in the situation.