In February, Google’s self-driving car spin-out Waymo accused Anthony Levandowski of burglary 14,000 arcane files about the laser-ranging lidars developed while he was alive there and demography them to Uber. On Friday, 14 April, the architect sat bottomward in the San Francisco appointment of Waymo’s attorneys to face six hours of adamantine questioning.
When asked what his accepted responsibilities were at Uber, Levandowski took the Fifth, citation his appropriate beneath the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment not to acknowledgment questions that ability allege him. He pleaded it afresh to questions about whether he blanket the files, and afresh aback asked if he afterwards acclimated the files to body lidars for Uber. In fact, he took the Fifth over 400 times in the advance of the day.
The archetype of the deposition, appear on Friday, is predictably repetitious. Despite that, it is one of the best anecdotic abstracts to appear from the accusation so far, absolute Google’s aboriginal suspicions of Levandowski, capacity about key suppliers, ahead abstruse cipher names, and abstruse capacity of the lidars in question. Here’s what I learned, and how:
1. Questions can be aloof as advisory as answers
Although Levandowski’s answers were identical, I abstruse a lot from Waymo’s questions. It seems Waymo now thinks that Levandowski was artful Google about from the moment it assassin him to assignment on the Street View maps activity aback in 2007. Google aboriginal had apropos aback it begin out that Levandowski was alive with his own startups, 510 Systems and Anthony’s Robots, to body a self-driving car, as aboriginal appear in IEEE Spectrum.
“When Google apparent that you were complex in 510 Systems and Anthony’s Robots, it was anxious about abeyant conflicts,” said Waymo’s lawyer, David Perlson. “You acclimated arcane advice from Google to advice advance technology at 510 Systems; correct?” He went on to allege Levandowski of application Street View cipher to calibrate 510’s Velodyne lidar, and in the startup’s self-driving car technology.
2. Levandowski names his lidars afterwards mountains
Perlson said that the lidar Levandowski congenital at 510 Systems was alleged Little Bear, afterwards a abundance in Colorado. “The Fuji arrangement at Uber is alleged afterwards Mount Fuji,” he went on. “And the acumen that the Fuji arrangement at Uber is alleged afterwards Mount Fuji is that it is acquired from Google technology that was additionally code-named with names of mountains.” Perlson appear Google’s lidars are all alleged Grizzly Bear, apparently afterwards Grizzly Peak in Berkeley, area 510 Systems was based. The latest Waymo lidar is alleged Grizzly Bear 3 or GBR3.
3. The ancillary hustles kept coming
Perlson accused Levandowski of authoritative a aggregation alleged Dogwood Leasing that hired ex-Google architect and 510 Systems architect Asheem Linaval to use Google’s secrets to advance self-driving car technology. Linaval was eventually assassin by Levandowski’s free barter startup, Otto, which Uber bought in 2016.
Waymo additionally accused Levandowski of founding yet accession startup, Odin Wave, and agriculture it arcane lidar technology. In 2013, one of Google’s suppliers alleged Google because it had accustomed an adjustment from Odin Wave that was agnate to genitalia acclimated by the technology giant. Perlson accused Levandowski of afresh affective Odin Wave and renaming the aggregation Tyto, to adumbrate his involvement.
4. Be accurate what you file
The 184-page archetype of Levandowski’s degradation was heavily redacted by Waymo’s and Uber’s attorneys to abstruse commercially acute information. But different amid the court’s filings, the archetype included an basis that had been generated afore the redactions were made. By cross-referencing the redactions with the index, I was able to bare about every chat that the companies did not appetite fabricated public.
For instance, I apparent that the aggregation bartering both Google and Odin Wave with lidar apparatus was OMW Corporation, a high-tech arrangement accomplishment business based in the Bay Area.
5. A aggregate supplier ecosystem
Perlson afresh asked Levandowski: “Did Otto baddest third-party vendors because of their ability of Google’s arcane technology?” Uncovering the redactions reveals that Perlson asked whether Otto had anytime acclimated three accurate optical basic companies while developing its laser technology. It seems acceptable that these are key suppliers for Waymo’s lidar.
The affair came up afresh in advertence to Uber. In December 2015, accession supplier, which redactions acknowledge to be Gorilla Circuits, accidentally beatific an email advised for Uber engineers to a Waymo employee. The email included a ambit architecture for a lidar that Waymo believes replicates its abstruse technology.
6. An Owl and a Spider lidar
“You acclimated arcane advice from the 14,000 files you took from Google to advance lidar at Uber; correct?” Perlson asked Levandowski during the deposition. He went on to name three specific devices: the Fuji lidar that Uber is alive on now; the Owl lidar congenital by Tyto; and, redactions reveal, a ahead alien lidar alleged Spider.
Spider is the pre-Fuji architecture that Waymo afresh accused Uber of hiding, and whose actuality aboriginal emerged from a filing Uber fabricated with Nevada regulators in November. Waymo believes Spider to be about a archetype of its Grizzly Bear 3 lidar.
7. Abstruse similarities
The redactions additionally appearance the specific abstruse capacity in Uber’s Fuji lidar architecture that Waymo thinks it can trace aback to its own patents and barter secrets.
Waymo sees similarities in the agreement and adjustment of diodes on the Fuji’s printed ambit boards (PCBs), including accepting tiny diodes blind on the bend of the PCB. It additionally suspects that a annular lens accumulation and adviser holes for pins are acquired from arcane advice that Levandowski took from Google.
In addition, Perlson asked Levandowski about Uber’s advance on ion-doped laser fibers for lidars, which both companies are alive on.
8. Levandowski’s aboriginal life
Finally, Perlson let Uber’s attorneys ask Levandowski a few questions that he was able to answer, mostly about his activity and assignment alfresco Google and Uber. His responses appearance that Levandowski’s entrepreneurship started at an aboriginal age, affairs bonbon to adolescent acceptance in aerial school, afresh architecture a website to cross photos of the academy buildings.
He fabricated his aboriginal self-driving agent application Java and Lego Mindstorms at UC Berkeley, afore architecture a (partly) self-driving motorcycle for DARPA’s Grand Challenge antagonism in 2004. He additionally claimed to accept formed on Velodyne’s aboriginal bartering lidar. “After the [second Grand Challenge], I helped them get their assemblage from the early, aboriginal ancestor that aloof outputted video data… into outputting Ethernet packets so that others could use it,” said Levandowski.
A adjudicator disqualified Tuesday that Levandowski’s Fifth Amendment rights did not extend to abstracts that Uber controls.
The aing anniversary in the ballsy accusation is a audition on 3 May to adjudge Waymo’s appeal for a basic admonition to arrest Uber’s self-driving car efforts. That could be all the added analytical for Uber, accustomed that Waymo aloof appear that it would aggrandize its balloon of free minivans in Arizona to over 500 vehicles.
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