The company has presented more evidence to support its allegations that Anthony Levandowski stole proprietary technology.Alphabet's Waymo unit has stepped up its legal battle with Uber, filing an injunction request to prevent the ride-hailing company from continuing to use its allegedly stolen LiDAR technology.The company has presented more evidence to support its allegations that the former head of its autonomous car unit, Anthony Levandowski, took proprietary technology when he departed to launch a startup, Otto, that was quickly acquired by Uber.
Documents cited by Recode detail how a Waymo security engineer performed a forensic investigation on Levandowski's company computer and determined that he had downloaded 14,000 files related to component designs for sensors and other hardware.
Other testimony includes comments from a colleague, Pierre-Yves Droz, who co-founded another startup with Levandowski that was acquired by Google. He suggests Levandowski had engaged in acquisition talks with Uber over LiDAR technology while still working at Google.
"We were having dinner at a restaurant near the office, and [Levandowski] told me that it would be nice to create a new self-driving car startup and that Uber would be interested in buying the team responsible for the LiDAR we were developing at Google," Droz said.
A single sensor design may seem like a relatively insignificant piece amongst the wide range of hardware and software technologies necessary to build an autonomous vehicle. Waymo is one of the few startups to design its own hardware from the ground up, however, and its LiDAR sensor is claimed to be much cheaper than the five-figure units currently offered by suppliers.
"Waymo engineers have driven down the cost of LiDAR dramatically even as we've improved the quality and reliability of its performance," the company wrote in a blog post announcing the lawsuit. "The configuration and specifications of our LiDAR sensors are unique to Waymo."
Uber has dismissed the lawsuit as a "baseless attempt to slow down a competitor."