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Uber and Google’s subsidiary Waymo announced a settlement Friday valued at $245 million in a major trade secrets trial related to self-driving car technology.
Attendees in a San Francisco courtroom reportedly gasped when Federal District Judge William Alsup announced the surprise settlement in the case, which was expected to last for weeks. The trial kicked off Monday and included testimony from former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who was ousted from the company he founded after a series of scandals.
Waymo, Google’s self-driving car subsidiary, alleged that its top self-driving car engineer, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded more than 14,000 files before leaving to launch his own self-driving tech company. Uber bought that company, Otto, shortly after and employed its LiDAR design. Waymo claimed that design closely resembled its own.
“We have reached an agreement with Uber that we believe will protect Waymo’s intellectual property now and into the future,” Waymo says in a statement. “We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology. This includes an agreement to ensure that any Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated in Uber Advanced Technologies Group hardware and software. We have always believed competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs and on the roads and we look forward to bringing fully self-driving cars to the world.”
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also issued a statement.
“To be clear, while we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber, nor do we believe that Uber has used any of Waymo’s proprietary information in its self-driving technology, we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our Lidar and software represents just our good work.”
Uber will reportedly provide Waymo with a 0.34 percent equity stake at Uber’s $72 billion valuation. Waymo had originally sought a $1 billion settlement last year before the trial got underway, but Uber rejected that deal.
While the two companies argued over LiDAR technology this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk held steady in his position that LiDAR – the tech used by most of Tesla’s rivals – is not the best approach to achieve fully autonomous driving. Tesla, instead uses redundant forward cameras, forward radar, and near-field ultrasonics.