Uber’s self-driving program will live to drive another day.
A federal judge on Monday said that Uber will be allowed to go forward with its self-driving car program even as it faces another obstacle in its ongoing lawsuit with Google over self-driving technology.
It’s not all good news for Uber. A federal judge has granted an injunction that blocks its self-driving chief Anthony Levandowski from working on the company’s self-driving project due to the ongoing lawsuit. Google (through its self-driving car company Waymo) is suing Uber alleging that a former Google engineer took trade secrets with him when he want to help start Uber’s self-driving car program.
The ruling could have been much worse for Uber. As part of the injunction, the judge also ruled that Uber can go forward with its current self-driving pilot programs even as Levandowski faces criminal trial over the allegations of stolen documents looms.
An Uber spokesperson said the company is “pleased with the court’s ruling that Uber can continue building and utilizing all of its self-driving technology, including our innovation around LiDAR.”
“We look forward to moving toward trial and continuing to demonstrate that our technology has been built independently from the ground up,” the spokesperson added.
Levandowski has faced accusations of stealing tech for Google’s self-driving car project, specifically for the LiDAR sensor system, as part of a lawsuit Google parent company Alphabet brought against Uber’s autonomous driving efforts for patent infringement.
This new ruling from California judge William Alsup notes that Waymo was successful in trying to prove that Levandowski had downloaded thousands of Waymo documents before leaving to found self-driving startup Otto, which was later purchased by Uber and rolled into its own self-driving car program.
A spokesperson for Waymo told Mashable via email, “We welcome the order to prohibit Ubers use of stolen documents containing trade secrets developed by Waymo through years of research, and to formally bar Mr Levandowski from working on the technology. The court has also granted Waymo expedited discovery and we will use this to further protect our work and hold Uber fully responsible for its misconduct.
The LiDar system uses pulsing lasers read by a special sensor to detect the distance from a target, a key piece of technology in developing self-driving cars.
Just a few weeks ago, Levandowski said he was recusing himself from working on the LiDar sensor system due to the lawsuit but, as CNBC reports, an Uber worker who recently testified in the lawsuit said that Levandowski is in almost daily contact with the person currently heading up the self-driving technology department.
Meanwhile, Waymo has wasted no time in partnering up with Lyft, Uber’s main competitor, to develop self-driving car projects.