Fury Road

Fury Road

Did Uber Steal the Driverless Future from Google?

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  • Controversial
  • Background


Uber has faced myriad controversies, but none of them is as existential a threat to its future as a patent infringement lawsuit from Google. On the surface, Google’s claim that a former employee passed design documents for Google’s self-driving car technology to Uber may look like a clear-cut case of theft. But as Bloomberg Businessweek reporters Max Chafkin and Mark Bergen explain, the events that preceded the alleged knowledge transfer paint a much more nuanced picture of the dispute. getAbstract recommends Chafkin and Bergen’s report to automotive industry professionals, patent lawyers and anybody interested in the background of this headline-grabbing case. 


Uber Technologies faces a lawsuit from Alphabet on behalf of Google’s self-driving car division, Waymo. Google accuses Uber of stealing Waymo’s driverless car technology. The lawsuit could jeopardize Uber’s self-driving car program – “a business that both companies believe will be worth hundreds of billions or even trillions of dollars a year.” In fact, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick considers driverless cars an “existential” necessity for the company: Its largest cost is paying drivers.

At the center of the patent infringement dispute is Anthony Levandowski, an engineer and...

About the Authors

Max Chafkin and Mark Bergen are writers at Bloomberg Businessweek. 

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