Over the past five days, Uber and Waymo have been entangled in a court case over Waymo’s allegations that Uber stole its self-driving LiDAR system. Today, the two companies have announced that they reached a settlement agreement, under which Uber will pay Waymo a 0.34 equity stake, “amounting to about $245 million at Uber’s recent $72 billion valuation” (via CNBC).
Additionally, Uber has agreed that it will not incorporate Waymo’s self-driving technology into any of its own hardware or software. Alongside the settlement, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a letter that the company “does not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber,” nor that Waymo’s tech was used by Uber in any way, but expressed regret for the ongoing trial over the past year and the events that led up to it.
To be clear, 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.
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.
Waymo’s lawsuit concerned Uber and its acquisition of self-driving trucking startup Otto, with Waymo believing that employees at Otto stole information from Alphabet-owned Waymo and shared it with Uber. Despite Khosrowshahi’s belief that no such data was seen or used by Uber, the company appears ready to put the legal battle behind it through the settlement and payment to Waymo.
As the fight between the two companies stretched throughout last year, Waymo began a self-driving car test in Phoenix, Arizona, which eventually expanded to testing an autonomous ride-hailing service with no safety drivers. With its fleet of more than 600 minivans, Waymo is considered one of the leaders in the field of self-driving technology, which Apple is now attempting to catch up with through “accelerating” its self-driving efforts in California.