A high-profile legal battle between Uber and Google-spin-off Waymo, which accused the ride-hailing company of stealing its self-driving car technology, came to a close Friday after the two companies reached a settlement Friday. Both sides in the case issued statements confirming the settlement Friday morning in the midst of a federal court trial in the case.
Google’s Waymo unit says Uber agreed to take steps to make sure Waymo technology isn’t used in Uber’s autonomous vehicles. Waymo says Uber also agreed to pay about $245 million.
Uber’s general counsel declined to comment on the settlement figure.
Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a printed statement that the company doesn’t believe trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber. He also says Uber is taking steps to make sure its self-driving vehicle research represents only Uber’s work.
In his statement, Khosrowshahi said:
"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."
He added: "While I cannot erase the past, I can commit, on behalf of every Uber employee, that we will learn from it, and it will inform our actions going forward. I’ve told Alphabet that the incredible people at Uber ATG are focused on ensuring that our development represents the very best of Uber’s innovation and experience in self-driving technology."
Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick took the witness stand Tuesday, offering his initial response to allegations that he cooked up a scheme to steal self-driving car technology from Google.
Kalanick’s testimony centered on his dealings with Anthony Levandowski, a former star engineer at Google who left its robotic-vehicle project in January 2016. Levandowski subsequently launched a robotic-truck startup called Otto that Uber bought a few months later for $680 million.
Waymo, a spinoff company that inherited Google’s autonomous car project, sued Uber almost a year ago, charging it with the theft of Google technology. Among other things, Waymo alleges that Kalanick and Levandowski conspired to use Otto as a storehouse of Google’s trade secrets in order to give them to Uber.
Kalanick sought to dispel those accusations while frequently sipping from a bottle of water during Waymo’s 45-minute grilling at the end of Tuesday’s session.
Kalanick acknowledged meeting Levandowski several times before he quit Google, saying they discussed ways to improve Uber’s own self-driving cars. He called one meeting a “jam session,” a reference to the way musicians riff off each other in search of a great sound.
Notes taken from some of those meetings said Kalanick expressed his desire for a “pound of flesh” and “all their data” for Uber, without providing more specifics. Kalanick testified that he couldn’t recall using those specific words, but said it was possible he did.