IN A YEAR-LONG litigation process that featured alleged theft, mysterious deleted text messages, and the odd reference to Burning Man, Friday’s twist was perhaps the most unexpected of all: On the fifth day in court, Waymo accepted a settlement in its self-driving tech trade secret lawsuit against Uber.
In the trial’s fifth day, witnesses were set to testify as to how Waymo’s trade secrets had appeared in Uber lidar designs, the specialized sensor that helps self-driving cars see. Instead, lawyers hugged in the San Francisco’s courtroom well, as the federal judge assigned to the case, William Alsup, declared the whole suit “ancient history.”
The case had threatened to reshape the race for autonomous vehicle tech. Waymo, by some measures, leads in developing self-driving-car technology, with more than 4 million miles of public road testing behind it.