Waymo And Lyft Forge Self-Driving Car Alliance As Judge Bars Levandowski From Uber LiDAR Work

Waymo and Lyft are joining forces to help bring self-driving vehicles to the masses. The collaboration comes on the heels of a ruling in the case of Anthony Levandowski, a former Google employee, founder of Otto and current Uber employee. 

Waymo and Lyft were not forthcoming about the details of the new relationship and did not reveal what products they will be working on, or when their new projects will be available to the public. Both Waymo and Lyft have worked in the past to collaborate with corporations in the automobile industry. Waymo has been in formal talks with Honda and Fiat Chrysler, while Lyft reached a deal last year with General Motors. A Waymo representative noted, “Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places.”

waymo self driving vehicle

Both Waymo and Lyft hope to dethrone Uber, one of their number one competitors. This is where Levandowski comes into play. He will no longer be able to work on projects that incorporate LiDAR technology, but Uber may continue to develop its autonomous driving program. The Levandowski case complicates this competitive market. Waymo filed a lawsuit against Levandowski this past winter and accused him of downloading “9.7 GB of Waymo’s highly confidential files and trade secrets, including blueprints, design files and testing documentation” before resigning from the company.

After working for Google, Levandowski founded his company Otto. He eventually sold his company to Uber and became the head of their Advanced Technologies Group (ATG). When Google decided to sue Levandowski for his alleged theft, he was removed from Uber’s ATG and from any other LiDAR projects. The judge has ruled that Levandowski officially cannot work on any of these projects and that Uber’s LiDAR development relied heavily upon research from Waymo.

anthony levandowski
Image from: Flickr, shinnygogo

Uber can continue its own projects without Levandowski. Waymo, however, will be able to “inspect any and all aspects of defendants’ ongoing work involving LiDAR – including, without limitation, schematics, work orders, source code, notes and emails – whether or not said work resulted in any prototype or device”. Between this recent court case, and the Waymo-Lyft agreement, it appears that Google is working on increasing the size of its slice in the self-driving vehicle market.