Uber Boss Takes Stand At Driverless Trial

He drove Uber's 2016 acquisition of Otto, the self-driving truck startup founded by Levandowski, which merged the companies' businesses and put Levandowski in charge of Uber's autonomous-driving unit.

Google has pursued autonomous vehicle technology for nearly as long as Uber has existed.

Waymo and Uber declined to comment, and Kalanick's lawyers could not immediately be reached.

When shown an image of a document he wrote which included the phrase, "lasers, data and advice are the three things", Kalanick said under questioning he was not sure what that meant, sidestepping a question on whether he was asking Levandowski for Google secrets. During the trial's opening statements on Monday, Verhoeven said competitive pressures were so great to develop self-driving cars that Kalanick decided 'winning was more important than obeying the law.' The dispute between the companies has captivated Silicon Valley and could help determine who emerges in the forefront of the fast-growing field of autonomous cars.

"This case is about one competitor deciding they need to win at all costs", an attorney for Alphabet said in his opening statement on Monday. He argued no one at Uber actually did anything illegal.

Levandowski "was the hottest guy around - the hottest commodity in the whole autonomous vehicle business", Carmody said.

"The evidence is going to show that repeatedly Mr. Levandowski inappropriately and secretly downloaded confidential Google documents on the very same day he was meeting with Uber executives about moving over to Uber and developing their LiDAR", Verhoeven said.

Uber attorneys hammered hard on Waymo's vice president of engineering Tuesday on the second day of the Waymo vs. Uber trial, implying that the technologies at issue aren't necessarily secrets.

Uber contends that Waymo's claims are baseless and that none of the files ever made it to the company.

Who are some of the players?

Dolgov cited initiatives of Baidu, ride-hailing companies Didi Chuxing and Lyft, and carmakers. Waymo lawyers presented notes and emails in an effort to prove that Uber officials knew Levandowski was in possession of stolen files before he was brought onboard. "You can only sue them over stealing or misappropriating their trade secrets". He has consistently refused to testify, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.

Uber has vehemently denied the allegations in the civil case, which has also triggered a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Nearly immediately, Levandowski started his own self-driving truck manufacturer, Otto.

If Kalanick is the big baddie, then Waymo laid the groundwork to portray itself as the kind, innovative, gentle landing place for self-driving auto geniuses. Uber valued Levandowski's and his company's contributions as worth between $830 million and $4 billion, he said. It is unclear how much Mr. Levandowski, already a wealthy man thanks to a $120 million bonus from his time at Google, personally made in the deal.

After jury selection last month, this week marked the start of the trial that will continue until the end of the month.

Otto is still an independent unit within Uber and is technically a separate defendant in this case.

Meanwhile Levandowski is barred from working in the self-driving vehicle business.

Until the jury decides, it will be a long trial full of sensor diagrams, deposition videos, download logs, and highlighted email conversations that executives didn't anticipate being read out loud in a courtroom with everyone watching.

  • Joanne Flowers