PURLOINED documents, duplicitous employees and conflicted loyalties. The race to dominate the field of self-driving cars is in its early stages, but is already full of intrigue. A hearing has begun on a lawsuit that could affect the future of autonomous-vehicle technology.
On one side is Waymo, the self-driving car unit owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet. It has accused Uber, a ride-hailing firm, of using stolen technology to develop its autonomous-driving capabilities. The origin of the dispute was a deal last summer when Uber spent $680m to buy Otto, a self-driving lorry firm.
Anthony Levandowski, who had worked at Alphabet for ten years and played a big role in its self-driving efforts, had co-founded the startup, which was just seven months old when Uber bought it. Before leaving Alphabet, Waymo claims, Mr Levandowski illegally downloaded around 14,000 computer files.