The ride-hailing service Lyft said Monday it will partner with Waymo, Google’s self-driving project, adding drama to the race in Silicon Valley to develop an autonomous driving service—a contest that is playing out in courts and in cities across the country.
There was little information on specifics of the deal, but it is sure to upset Uber, the market leader. Lyft is the number-two ride-hailing service, and its competition with Uber has been fierce: Lyft once accused Uber of sabotaging its business. Separately Waymo, which operates under Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has accused Uber in court of stealing its trade secrets.
In that lawsuit, a federal judge on Monday ordered Uber to stop using technology that may have been downloaded by Anthony Levandowski, a former Waymo engineer who is now with Uber. Waymo was seeking a full injection on Uber’s driverless-car program, and while the judge did not go that far, the court did bar Levandowski from working on Uber’s autonomous vehicle project while the case is open.
Levandowski is accused of conspiring with Uber to take thousands of files before he switched companies. Specially, Levandowski is alleged to have taken information on Waymo’s LIDAR technology, which helps the cars to see. The system uses pulses of laser light to create a digital map of the world around a car, crucial to helping it navigate the streets. Uber has denied claims it stole the technology, or that they are fundamentally the same. The judge, however, appears not to agree.