The legal showdown between Uber and Waymo appears to be escalating, weeks after Waymo accused Uber of stealing its top-secret designs for driverless vehicles.
An Uber spokesperson on Friday reduced Waymo’s claims to a “baseless attempt to slow down a competitor,” in the ridesharing giant’s strongest public response yet to a federal lawsuit filed in February. The companies are in an intense battle for the future of what many believe could be a trillion-dollar industry, and the development of a technology that will dramatically reshape the way people move through the world.
Uber’s statement came shortly after Waymo asked a federal court to force Uber to stop its work on self-driving cars. (Waymo is a new company that spun out from Google's self-driving car project last year.) The request for an injunction was based on Waymo’s claim that Anthony Levandowski, a former leading engineer for Google’s self-driving car project, secretly stole 14,000 files from the company before he quit to start his own self-driving truck company. Uber acquired Levandowski’s startup, Otto, for $680 million shortly after it launched last year.
Waymo further claims that it has proof—via an email that seemed to have been sent to Waymo accidentally—that Uber copied Waymo’s laser-radar system, the crucial component of what makes a self-driving car drive itself.