Published On: Wed, Apr 26th, 2017

A Waymo filing leaks lidar tech sum in Uber lawsuit

Anthony Levandowski took his chair in a discussion room one balmy Friday morning in Apr and proceeded to review a same word from a square of paper for a subsequent 5 hours.

“On a recommendation and instruction of my counsel, we respectfully decrease to answer. And we claim a rights guaranteed to me underneath a Fifth Amendment to a Constitution of a United States,” Levandowski said. And afterwards he pronounced it again. And again.

Levandowski, who describes himself as a colonize in a margin of self-driving automobile technology, had never been deposed before. But his contributions to a driverless automobile industry, initial during Google’s self-driving territory Waymo and after during Uber, have landed him during a core of a quarrelsome authorised conflict between a dual companies. During a Apr assembly with Waymo’s lawyers, Levandowski was confronted with a sum of a record he combined and asked to acknowledge he had stolen it.

Although Levandowski answered no questions solely a handful about his time as a UC Berkeley student, a questions themselves exhibit certain intricacies of Waymo’s record — facilities that Waymo claims have inexplicably incited adult in Uber’s lidar devices.

The lawyers’ questions for Levandowski also uncover that Waymo and Uber’s arguments concentration on different components of their sold lidar systems and that, as a rough claim looms, a dual companies are still articulate past any other about their technology.

Waymo has indicted Levandowski of duplicating tens of thousands of trusted files about a lidar record and regulating them to jumpstart Uber’s bid to turn a initial association to commercialize self-driving vehicles. On May 3, a sovereign decider will confirm either Waymo’s allegations are convincing adequate to temporarily hindrance Uber’s work — a pierce that would fleece Uber’s devise to turn profitable.

“This is an well-developed case. It calls for well-developed relief,” Waymo’s profession Charles Verhoeven wrote in a filing. “To this day, Levandowski stays heavily concerned in Uber’s LiDAR development. Uber should be enjoined from stability to use Levandowski in a driverless automobile module and from stability to misemploy and transgress Waymo’s egghead property.”

The box pits Uber’s lidar device, codenamed Fuji and now underneath development, opposite Waymo’s device, a name of that is redacted in justice papers and is already deployed on a road. Not usually does a Fuji transgress on a trade secrets, Waymo claims, though Levandowski also grown another infringing device during Uber, codenamed Spider.

(Levandowski often named his inventions after mountains. At 510 Systems, his association that was after acquired by Google, a lidar complement was named Little Bear, presumably after one of Colorado’s some-more severe 14ers. Later versions of Google’s lidar were nicknamed Grizzly Bear 2 and Grizzly Bear 3. It’s not transparent if Uber’s Spider and an early chronicle of Tyto’s lidar named Owl followed this convention, though plateau circuitously a Canadian limit of Washington bear a names of both creatures.)

Attorneys for Waymo contend that Uber attempted to keep Spider dark from a court, while Uber argues that it didn’t discuss Spider given it never became entirely fledged technology, amounting to small some-more than unassembled parts. Waymo schooled of Spider’s existence during a deposition of Asheem Linaval, an operative Levandowski recruited from Google to join him during Uber, and was authorised to check a uncompleted device final week.

Although Waymo submitted an 80-page list detailing a roughly 100 stolen trade secrets to a court, a attorneys quizzed Levandowski on a handful of pattern details, including a use of fiber laser record and a specific positioning of diodes on a printed circuit board.

TechCrunch schooled a name of Uber’s “Spider,” Tyto’s “Owl” and sum about Waymo’s record from a twin of Levandowski’s mid-April deposition. Although a information is redacted in a twin itself, a open filing enclosed an index of all a difference in a deposition and a page and line on that they appear. By cross-referencing a redactions with a index, it is probable to interpret many of a redacted information (Waymo has given yanked a open filing from a docket). The names of Spider and Owl were reliable in an Uber filing late yesterday afternoon.

Secretive circuit boards

The printed circuit boards, or PCBs, are during a heart of Waymo’s lidar systems. Lidar functions as a eyes of a self-driving car, promulgation out lasers that rebound off objects in a car’s sourroundings and ping back, formulating a transparent map of a surroundings. The ensuing images are beautiful pin clouds” that etch circuitously cars, obstacles and people. 

These basis of lidar record are publicly known, though information about Waymo’s printed circuit boards, that make adult a broadcast and accept blocks that send out and collect a lasers, has not been done public.

During Levandowski’s deposition, Waymo’s attorneys questioned him extensively about a pattern of circuit play used in lidar systems during both Waymo and Uber, giving rebate time to concerns about numbers of lenses and visual cavities. Many questions focused on a positioning and angle of diodes on a circuit boards, hinting that Waymo’s transgression evidence competence concentration on a notation sum of a PCBs rather than on a series of lenses and visual cavities of Uber’s lidar device features Uber pronounced make a Fuji unique.

Other questions in a deposition impute to a positioning and angle of diodes and lamp pins on a printed circuit board, and a approach some of a diodes protrusion over the corner of a boards.

“You used a trusted information we schooled during Google to get a diode spacing shown on a board?” a Waymo profession asked Levandowski, display him a blueprint of Uber’s circuit board. “Uber would not have been means to have grown a spacing on a Fuji house shown on Exhibit 25, though anxiety to a 14,000 files we downloaded in Dec 2015; correct?” (The word “spacing” was redacted in a transcript.)

The “confidential specifications” of any era of circuit house Waymo has ever combined are among a 14,000 papers allegedly taken by Levandowski.

In Dec 2016, a retailer called Gorilla Circuits incorrectly copied Waymo on an email dictated for Uber engineers that contained a sketch of a circuit house used in a Fuji. Although Google already knew Levandowski had downloaded trusted files, a email from Gorilla was a initial denote he competence be regulating a files during Uber, Google claims. Waymo says that similarities between a circuit house and Uber’s are what triggered a litigation, and it identified “Gorilla” as one of 15 hunt terms for Uber to prioritize as it scans a servers for Waymo documents.

In a brief filed one week after Levandowski’s deposition, Waymo argued that Levandowski’s unchanging pleading of a Fifth Amendment could be used to infer that he had indeed stolen a trade secrets he was confronted with during a deposition. After all, if he hadn’t stolen them, because wouldn’t he pronounce adult and scold a record?

Because Waymo’s brief names a purported trade secrets it confronted Levandowski with along with citations observant when any tip was presented to him, it is probable to square together a names of a secrets with a underlying record discussed in a deposition. Waymo describes a positioning lamp pins on a printed circuit house as Trade Secret 14. (In a respond brief filed progressing this month, Uber huffily discharged Waymo’s claims about a privacy of a lamp pins, observant a judgment is “as elementary and as ubiquitous as a Tinker Toy.”) The series of printed circuit play and a series of diodes on any house are categorized as Trade Secrets 2 and 3. Trade Secret 7 appears to anxiety a overhang of specific diodes. Trade Secrets 1 and 4 anxiety a spacing and angle of diodes.

Uber contends that Levandowski had no submit in a spacing or angles of diodes on a PCB during Otto. In fact, Uber wrote in its filing yesterday that it primarily deliberate Otto as a probable lidar businessman and supposing a elite diode spacing and angles to Otto in sequence to elect PCBs.

“Mr. Levandowski did not yield a lamp spacing or angles for Spider, though instead asked Mr. Boehmke [an operative hired by Uber from Carnegie Mellon], as a customer, to yield Uber’s preferred lamp parameters, that were eventually used as starting mandate for Spider,” Uber’s attorneys wrote.

After Uber announced a merger of Otto in August, a association claims Levandowski had no submit into “the series of play in a broadcast block, pattern of a play in a broadcast block, series of laser diodes on any broadcast PCB, series of visual cavities, series of channels, lamp parameters, positioning of a laser diodes with honour to a corner of a PCB or on bond pads, a use of lamp holes, a plcae and course of a laser diodes on a broadcast PCBs, a production or fixing of FAC lenses, or methods of spacing.”

Basically, Uber claims a similarities between a circuit play and Waymo’s have zero to do with Levandowski, observant they were grown by other engineers though his input.

Fiber saves money

Another underline that Waymo claims as partial of a tip salsa is a use of fiber laser technology, that is referred to as Trade Secret 48. Waymo says that Levandowski downloaded a “specific presentation” describing a record before abruptly quitting his pursuit during Google.

In a deposition with Sameer Kshirsagar, another former Googler hired by Uber to work on a driverless cars, Waymo attorneys lifted questions about Uber’s use of fiber laser technology. Levandowski insisted on sold levels of ion doping for visual fiber used in lasers, Kshirsagar said.

However, Uber has indicted Waymo of over-claiming secrets, observant that some of a technologies it has claimed as tip in-house developments are indeed common believe in a lidar attention — and a use of fiber laser record in lidar is already well-known.

In a paper published final year by NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office, engineers remarkable that a adoption of fiber lasers in lidar had a intensity to change a industry. 

“An generally critical effect of laser record growth over a past decade is that fiber-laser normal energy capability now rivals that of normal bulk solid-state systems, that is a graphic advantage,” a NASA group wrote. The new fiber systems are compact, an critical advantage for driverless cars comparison lidar systems are big, massive and too costly for a consumer market. Fiber systems also have a advantage of being “immune to misalignment.” 

Cutting a distance and cost of lidar systems is essential for a growth of self-driving cars. A lidar complement from Velodyne, a heading manufacturer, can cost $75,000 — an impractical cost tab for a consumer who’s already spending thousands of dollars on a car. That’s because Waymo has focused on shortening a distance and cost of a lidar system, reportedly slicing costs by as most as 90 percent.

One timorous magnitude that’s been a focal indicate of a box so distant is Waymo’s rebate to a singular lens for transmitting and receiving a laser beams. In contrast, Uber maintains that a Fuji is a multi-lens system. It’s not nonetheless transparent either Waymo’s innovations on circuit play and fiber laser record helped it grasp a cost-cutting objectives — though it is transparent that Waymo is peaceful to spend millions fortifying them.


In one week, U.S. District Judge William Alsup will confirm either or not to siphon a brakes on Uber’s self-driving module and Levandowski’s career. Lawyers for Waymo have spent a past month perplexing to remonstrate Alsup that Uber’s record is a ripoff of a own, while Uber’s authorised group argues that a record is unique, grown though poignant submit from Levandowski or his trove of documents, and that a work should be authorised to continue.

So far, Uber seems to be losing a fight. During an Apr 5 hearing, Alsup remarkable that in 42 years he’d never seen a record as convincing as a one Waymo’s presented.

Additional stating by Darrell Etherington.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

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