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Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber is going to trial, judge rules (techcrunch.com)
483 points by golfer on May 12, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 268 comments

This is a huge precursor to the real blow:

"The decision hints that Alsup’s pending decision on a preliminary injunction might not be favorable to Uber. . . it could effectively halt Uber’s self driving development plans entirely while the trial plays out."

In context of Travis' view "What would happen if we weren't a part of that future? If we weren't part of the autonomy thing? Then the future passes us by basically, in a very expeditious and efficient way," he said." (1)

(1) https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/travis-...

Thank you

The request for preliminary injunction, available here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3515651-Waymo-Motion... only has to do with LiDAR.

I'm far from an expert on the self driving car race, but I think even if Uber had to abandon LiDAR altogether it wouldn't mean it would be impossible to approach the problem in a different way. And it isn't clear that if the injunction were granted they'd have to abandon LiDAR altogether -- it may be that they could try a slightly different approach and/or develop a second firewalled team from the one tainted by Lewandowski.

It would surely be painful but I don't see why it would mean shutting down the self driving car project.

The problem isn't the technical side of things, it's the legal side.

If Uber loses this they probably won't be able to hire from Google, they will have to do "clean room" implementations, and this will all have to be done on the up and up with documentation and proof that whatever product they come up with was entirely started after the ruling with no use of anything that could have come from Google or Waymo. Not only will that all be a huge expense, it will be practically impossible to compete with those barriers constantly looming over the R&D team, not to mention all the extra legal red tape.

That is the crushing blow, not that they can't use LiDAR

Also, famously, Tesla does not use LiDAR. Not to mention, there are plenty of 3rd party LiDAR vendors whose equipment could be used to substitute the design in question.

If you think about it, the only sensor you need is a camera. Humans control cars with just their eyes as sensors. Our brains just possess superior perception. Maybe if uber pushed the boundaries of computer vision, they could make progress toward vehicles with simpler sensor suites.

Not really a strong argument. Birds prove that you can fly with only deformable surfaces (flapping wings), and in particular without dedicated devices to inhale air and push it out fast (engines). But if you had to build airplanes with deformable surfaces but not engines, you would never be competitive (at least for first century of aviation technology...).

Which proves -- in the case of flight -- that an "unnatural" refactor can be better along certain dimensions than what nature came up with: airplanes are better in terms of average speed and payload transported by air per unit energy consumed.

The parent's point was that, for driving, the "natural" human way is still better along one relevant dimension [1]: how much sensory data is required (SDCs need a lot more).

SDC engineers would regard it as an improvement if they could get SDCs to work using only the sensory data that a human would get. The parent was saying that Uber could show superiority by similarly doing more with less.

[1] Humans also drive with coarser control over the car i.e. no direct computer interface, just gripping the wheel and pushing the pedals.

The parent is clearly saying that this is a plausible route for Uber engineers using the biological proof-of-concept, which I have rebutted. They are not just saying it would be an improvement.

You cannot rebuke that claim via an aerospace analogy because they are not equivalent fields. It remains to be seen whether lidar is better for cars than "vision".

"Undermine" would have been a better choice of words than "rebut". Indeed, my first comment claimed explicitly to show his wasn't a strong argument, and I think that is obviously the case even if the fields aren't identical. (When are they ever?)

Bio creatures can also fly at low speeds, powered by bugs. Planes get nowhere close.

Passive sensing lets your eyes see stars and comets: long range, power efficient, avoids sensor conflicts with other objects.

"Yeah, so this is using only cameras and GPS. So there's no LIDAR or radar being used here. This is just using passive optical, which is essentially what a person uses. The whole road system is meant to be navigated with passive optical, or cameras, and so once you solve cameras or vision, then autonomy is solved. If you don't solve vision, it's not solved. So that's why our focus is so heavily on having a vision neural net that's very effective for road conditions." - Elon Musk, latest TED (https://www.ted.com/talks/elon_musk_the_future_we_re_buildin...)

I'd love a really well implemented augmented reality windshield though, one that added sensor data to my field of view.

Imagine being able to see heat signatures at night, or through obstructions.

"Our brains just possess superior perception."

This is the kicker. Lidar allows companies to make up for a lot of the current shortcomings of state-of-the-art computer vision.

As to how easily Uber could advance state-of-the-art computer vision, CV is an academic field with decades of research efforts built up already. To be fair, CNNs are still young-ish in terms of producing results, but Google, FB, etc all have better teams than Uber in this area. The fact that every major self-driving car project except Tesla is using lidar says a lot about how insiders see the first-to-market strategy playing out. Relying on pure CV at this point is kneecapping yourself.

We humans also use acoustic input as well as tactile input, acceleration sensors, etc. It's certainly possible to use vision only, but pretending that humans don't use any other senses when driving is simplifying things a bit.

Right, all you need is human level AI, seems simple enough.

It would mean losing years of progress and wasting large amounts of money that they spent on now-useless research.

What happens if Uber just pleads guilty, in order to get back to work ASAP? They lose important patents. And then, the victor is obligated by patent law to license patents at a reasonable price, by some unknown definition of reasonable?

It looks to me like Uber could take another PR hit, burn a $billion or more on the fallout, raise more billions, and keep on going. Have ethically motivated boycotts ever worked out, historically?

I don't think a patent holder is obligated to license a patent unless it is part of a technical standard.

And even then only because _they_ agreed to it for the particular instance. You can't define a standard that uses tech described in your competitors patents and then force them to license those.

Yes, you are correct. Standards Essential Patents are a subclass of normal patents. They are the only ones that the holder is obligated to license out. Normal patents carry no obligation to license them under any terms, much less "reasonable" ones.

The defendant in a civil case can't plead guilty. They are free to admit liability and do or pay whatever the plaintiff is asking for (not likely to happen), at which point the case would effectively end.

  Have ethically motivated boycotts ever worked out, historically?
Yes, but very rarely. For example:


also look up the 1965 boycott of california grapes (and in general the worker's strike and organizing efforts by cesar chavez and dolores huerta).

organizing works!

for anyone interested in more modern day wins, check out "when we fight we win" by greg jobin-leeds and agiarte.

> also look up the 1965 boycott of california grapes (and in general the worker's strike and organizing efforts by cesar chavez and dolores huerta).

On the other hand, not all of Chavez's boycotts were successful. That includes his final effort, a hunger strike which ultimately killed him (aside from his own death, it was not a particularly successful boycott otherwise either).

It's actually not at all that rare, especially if you shift your lens beyond the US. But even here, groups like the Coalition of Immokalee workers have used boycotts to win better conditions for the workers they represent.


I thought this was ip theft. Google likely didn't patent Crown Jewels, they keep it secret.

What about misappropriated code? Patents seem like it would be a much more simple situation.

Uber has taken enough PR hits that one more won't matter.

What matters is whether Uber will receive an injection on their self driving car project.

The autonomous vehicle war is going to be over in under 5 years. Uber is all in on that, and they cannot afford to be delayed by any amount of time that is measured in years.

> ... and they cannot afford to be delayed by any amount of time that is measured in years.

And maybe not by a matter of time measured in months. But how long do court cases take? Years, not months (especially if Google decided to try to make it take longer).

Isn't this a trade secrets case, not a patent case?

It is both. What happens if they admit to stealing trade secrets, and clearly intend to continue to compete in the market? Could the judge literally kick them out of the industry, or force the company to disband by labeling it an illegal organization?

Someone I know worked for a tech company in the valley back in the eighties that made high end medical equipment. They caught an American and Japanese company trying to reverse engineer one of their products. End result was both companies were bared from that market for something like 15 years.

This story is missing something, since reverse engineering is legal and done properly [1] gets you around copyrights and trade secrets. We're patents involved?

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_room_design

My guess is corporate espionage. For them to get an injunction like this, they probably paid members of the engineering team to give them proprietary information.

You're going to have a hard time proving it was done properly, clean room, etc, when one of the heads of your department on the topic was a key engineer of the technology you are supposedly reverse engineering when he worked on it at the competitor who developed it.

I guess Uber wants us to believe that Lewandowski downloaded the files for some other purpose than using the information in the job he was going to start in a few days.

Flip side, he can't be barred from using his skills as long as you document clean room procedures.

Thanks, I have a knee-jerk reaction to "reverse engineering is illegal / a tort" statements without nuance.

Why is reverse engineering illegal (unless covered by a patent)?

My recollection is reverse engineering is legal, but it needs to be done carefully. Using staff that designed the "thing" you are trying to reverse engineer is not part of the doing it carefully bit...

OK, it is not THAT bad.

The very worst worst case scenario is that Uber would be barred from using rotating, parabolic, Lidars.

But there are a lot of other ways of making self driving cars that don't use this specific method of sensor technology.

Uber could even just come to an agreement with Google, and license the technology.

It very much looks like Uber did this premeditated and that Travis and the Otto guy planned this while he was still at Google. It is VERY bad for Uber and they could get hit with much worse than just being banned from using a specific technology. The judge has already referred the case to the USA's office for possible criminal charges. Maybe we'll actually see an executive thrown in jail for once.

while I'd love to see this, I think that is highly doubtful :(

Why do you think it is highly doubtful?

Because Wall Street executives caused the economy to collapse and only one of them got thrown in jail. Executives only end up in jail when they hurt the rich (see: Enron, Bernie Madoff)

But Uber is not a Wall Street firm. And Google claims Uber has hurt it, and Google is very rich.

I imagine injunctive relief is an option for Waymo that could limit Uber's options for some time.

Maybe. People still need an income. That can keep uber drivers around for a bit. Also self driving cars may take 10-15 years to actuate reliably.

So while that happens Lyft could eat their lunch (and Waymo could help them).

I thought google invested in uber..?

I believe Google Ventures did, but that's not exactly the same entity.

Yes, they invested $250m at a $3.5bn valuation, estimated to be 2-7% ownership currently[1]. Makes me wonder: if Uber is found liable for a huge amount that would bankrupt them, could there be a situation where Waymo absorbs Uber as a post-trial settlement rather than Uber being liquidated?


With Levandowski remaining an agent of Google/Waymo all along?

I don't think so, Levandowski would be up on criminal charges or pleaded guilty to get a lesser sentence. Either way if if there is any truth in it, no one is going to hire the guy ever again.

read up on Sergey Aleynikov https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergey_Aleynikov and there was no malice in that one.

That would be quite the amazing turn of events.

That's rather reminiscent of Stephen Elop and Nokia.

More like 2-5.

Elon Musk publicly said Tesla is 2 years away from full autonomy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIwLWfaAg-8).

Chris Urmson (who was CTO of self-driving cars at google in 2009-2016) said it's 5 years (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtgBySRrN0Q).

Personally I think we're 1-2 years aways from initial commercial rollout and it'll grow very quickly from there.

> Personally I think we're 1-2 years aways from initial commercial rollout and it'll grow very quickly from there.

I think you're very optimistic. Bear in mind that Musk often over-promises on timelines (for instance, he said the new in-house autopilot in the Model S would have parity with the old outsourced one by the end of 2016, it still doesn't), and it will take sometime to regulate and legislate a whole new set of laws and structures around self driving (especially around matters of liability in the case of accidents).

I can imagine in 2 years we see more complex and intelligent implementations available for the general public that can manage route mapping and full autonomy in an ideal situation (you'd better hope its not snowing), but where drivers are still required to be present and have their hands on or near the wheel at all times.

I agree, I think we are farther off from truly autonomous driving than we believe, too many factors play into it that tend to be forgotten( I'm guilty of it as well when it comes to self-driving or a lot of technologies I'd love to see sooner than later):

1. Some people just enjoy driving their cars, tinkering with them from an automotive perspective and the like, self-driving cars will inhibit that due to their heavier reliance on software, design differences and lack of modification abilities as opposed to today's vehicles, self-driving cars won't gain acceptance from that crowd for a while.

2. The first accident that is caused by a self-driving car will cause a major set-back in the eye of the public, airplanes are over-engineered for the sake of redundancy and safety and I don't believe that level of detail will be applied to self-driving vehicles, honestly. Government standards will be met and companies will achieve the best safety ratings they can because it just doesn't hurt your product to have that as a selling point(I purchased my last vehicle for my family almost solely on it's high safety ratings) but sooner or later a self-driving vehicle will cause a casualty or injury.

3. Control and change, it is a complete paradigm shift for transportation as a whole and it will take a while some people to want to adapt or change with the times, a lot of cars are driven for sentimental reasons, the self-driving car tends to pull away from the romantic image of a vehicle(road trips come to mind as an example).

4.Cost, Self-driving cars bring a whole new level of technology to the consumer, how will that be handled from a financial perspective? Car dealers aren't known to be consumer friendly. Will there be economy models available? What about the individuals who just can't afford a self-driving car and are fine with a non-self-driving vehicle, individuals who can't afford to purchase a new car at all?

And along with cost: maintenance. The failure of a sensor could have far more dangerous consequences than a worn-out catalytic converter. You'll have to keep your car's sensors in much fitter trim. That will be impossible for lots of people who today can barely keep their car passing inspection.

Even when the subject is Uber you get people who somehow aren't able to process the notion that autonomous vehicles will be shared, managed and maintained by large scale professional fleet management services, and rented on a per trip basis. Every major company developing fully autonomous passenger vehicles is pursuing this model.

That's the reason. We are unable. Somehow we aren't able to process this subtle notion you have revealed to us. Even now, I find myself unable to grasp this nuance.

If they are truly just taxis, then their penetration will be approximately what taxis are today plus some increment to account for lower pricing. Maybe add rental cars.

Lol, this whole thread feels like it's out of a time warp from 2013, before the rush, when most people were still pretty naive about these things.

So where is the math that lets everyone suddenly afford to and want to take taxis everywhere?

In New York City, a taxi driver takes home maybe 50% of the money collected in fares after costs (whether depreciation on their own car, renting a taxi by the day or week, gas, etc.) That may be high but it's a nice round number.

If we take this as a general rule of thumb (and NYC cabbies make more than the average), that means you could but cab fares by roughly 50% by eliminating the driver. Maybe that forces a behavioral change on the part of some urbanites. But I can pretty much guarantee you that cutting cab prices by 50% will minimally affect behaviors in most places.

And that's not even counting the many places where having the most rudimentary cab services is barely a cost-effective business today.

Many analysts have crunched the numbers, and come up with similar results, but Brad Templeton has been thinking and writing about Robotaxis longer than anyone else, so I'll link to his numbers:


Those numbers seem quite consistent with what I wrote. Costs per mile of a "normal" car today of about 50 cents/mile. (Which is approximately the IRS reimbursement rate so that seems very reasonable.) So that would be a good ballpark. Which is 1/2 to 1/3 of Uber today.

Sure, you can speculate about optimized taxi designs (which aren't especially relevant to non-core urban areas with high car ownership today) but small electric vehicles could exist without self-driving too.

IMO this is an academic exercise for at least a couple of decades in any case but it's an interesting thought experiment.

The health of the sensors will become part of the safety inspection.

I've seen a fair amount of stuff in 40 years of driving:

Snow, of course. I live in Salt Lake, and I think it's going to be hard to automate a car to drive as well as a good, experienced snow driver.

I've hydroplaned once.

I've had a malfunctioning traffic light that gave me a green left turn arrow across oncoming traffic that also had a green.

I've seen an unattended baby stroller go coasting across a crosswalk just as the light turned green.

I somewhat often take my car onto dirt roads. Sometimes I have to be rather conscious of the clearance and where the rocks are so that I don't rip the bottom out of my oilpan. I also have to think carefully about how I approach the sandy patches so I don't get stuck.

My brother in law had his front brake lock up on one side while driving at freeway speed.

I've had the vehicle in front of me break an axle and drop a rolling tire on the road in front of me, while it went down the road dragging the brakeshoes on the ground. That happened on a cloverleaf; the driver of that vehicle did well not to roll it.

Maybe the worst I've seen: A pickup dropped an extension ladder in the middle of the freeway. It was rotating, and as it rotated, it grew in length. A bunch of cars were having to dodge it, plus dodge the cars that were dodging it.

There are a lot of crazy things that can be thrown at you while you're driving. Programming a computer to be able to handle all of them as well as a human is really hard - you first have to think of all of them.

Autopilot 2 just achieved parity. Late, but done.

As of today, AP2 is still missing the following AP1 features:

* Auto-dimming touchscreen

* Automatic windshield wipers

* Autopark - perpendicular

* Display cars in other lanes

* Side collision avoidance

* Side collision warning

* Sign recognition

It's also still steering itself off the road in places AP1 worked fine. There are videos over at r/teslamotors on Reddit or the TMC forum.

I received an email the other day saying side collision avoidance has been added in the latest update, but the rest still stand.

That seems crazy that automatic windshield wipers aren't enabled... my 2008 Honda Civic has those!

To put this into perspective, the things that recently shipped are autosteer and auto-braking at high speeds.

Who the hell did they outsource from?

The automatic wipers were from someone else like Bosch, they used to have a bug similar to a bug on Mercedes cars.


Nobody doubts Elon's ability to execute. He's just famous for missing his own deadlines.

Didn't check /r/Tesla and /r/SpaceX lately so I don't know what the current value is, but Elon Time coefficient used to be something around 1.7 or 1.8 ;).

I completely disagree. If you look at a recent video of Tesla self-driving real-world "debug" mode with identification/classification bounding boxes, that and Musk's bet on the simplicity of pure-optical CV they have a convincing argument for full autonomy reasonably within a few years.

I can't prove it but I will say 10x your prediction, between 20 and 50 years to get a real self driving car, a car with no wheel, fully automated. Maybe 10 years to have automated highway-only trucks. I think expectations are completely unrealistic in this.

For technological or regulatory reasons? (for context, I often see cars without steering wheels tooling around Mountain View)

And I have seen robots that answer carefully worded questions by their creators, does it mean robots can talk?

I think it will be easy to get to the 80-90% but the last bits are going to kill this. Bad weather conditions, night, extreme situations, etc. Self driving cars have to drive better than the median, because the median includes drunk and elderly drivers dragging it down. I'm sure a self driving car will drive better than a drunk but that's not the goalpost, the goalpost is you and me, intelligent rational drivers who basically never have accidents (that are our fault). This is going to be very difficult as the situations that arise often times require an intelligent decision, intelligent prediction. I just don't see all those machine learning dumb systems getting there, not removing the wheel. And until the wheel is removed its useless. A car that drives but requires me to be aware enough I can take over on a split second is not self driving, so the bar is very high.

How often does it snow in Mountain View?

Why is that relevant? The person stated that they expected autonomous vehicles to take 20-50 years to have no steering wheels. My point is, such vehicles already drive on the roads in some places. The limits are already often more regulatory than technological.

I wasn't replying to the person, I was replying to /you/.

The impression I got from your statement was that you consider fully autonomous vehicles not far off. I disagree.

The point I was making was that the vehicles you see driving around are literally fair-weather vehicles.

A vehicle which can navigate autonomously 95% of the time might not be that far off (I still call it a decade though), but those last 5% (thus, no steering wheel at all) are going to be way harder. To give but a few examples: humans are taxed by navigating roads in snowy weather at night, but they usually pull it off. Or intersections controlled by traffic police. Or intersections with undisciplined drivers pushing in. I'll be interested to see an autonomous system deal with such situations gracefully.

I agree that there are difficult regulatory issues to figure out, but don't underestimate the technical hurdles.

>I wasn't replying to the person, I was replying to /you/.

And my point still stands. How do you define a "fully autonomous vehicle" is an important question. Consider the following three possibilities:

- Drives better than the median human driver in average weather conditions on half of the roads in the US (alternatively, for harder goals, replace with US+Europe or World) - Drives better than 95% of people in 95% of weather conditions on 95% of roads in the US - Drives better than any human in any weather conditions on any road in the US

I'd argue we're almost certainly past the first milestone, and probably at or approaching the second, and the third will never be reached, but that doesn't matter.

>A vehicle which can navigate autonomously 95% of the time might not be that far off (I still call it a decade though), but those last 5% (thus, no steering wheel at all) are going to be way harder. To give but a few examples: humans are taxed by navigating roads in snowy weather at night, but they usually pull it off. Or intersections controlled by traffic police. Or intersections with undisciplined drivers pushing in. I'll be interested to see an autonomous system deal with such situations gracefully.

Fwiw, I'm fairly confident that waymo's vehicles can handle flagmen and have more experience driving in the snow than I do. And I'm sure they can handle aggressive or undisciplined drivers.

Conversely, there are situations that AVs will handle much much better than humans already (a neighborhood with a lot of kids running around and shrubs occluding them for example).

For context, we know that the first goal (better than average driver in half of road conditions) is now achievable by teams of 1-3 people on a tight budget in O(months) (and really, maybe weeks), since people have done that and posted it on the internet.

> - Drives better than the median human driver in average weather conditions on half of the roads in the US (alternatively, for harder goals, replace with US+Europe or World) - Drives better than 95% of people in 95% of weather conditions on 95% of roads in the US - Drives better than any human in any weather conditions on any road in the US

> I'd argue we're almost certainly past the first milestone, and probably at or approaching the second, and the third will never be reached, but that doesn't matter.

I agree on the first and third milestones. Or kinda -- perhaps the first milestone is only reached for California, or for US highways yet.

I think you underestimate how difficult the second milestone is. The variation is tremendous, even merely within the US, to say nothing about the rest of the world.

> Fwiw, I'm fairly confident that waymo's vehicles can handle flagmen and

I'm sceptical. I think there will be so much ambiguity, both through road situation and through human interaction which we interpret with comparable ease, that the car may be stumped. And we set the high hurdle of forgoing steering wheels, so we need some other, yet to be devised way to give the car hints safely and efficiently.

> have more experience driving in the snow than I do.

I wasn't thinking about handling the car (I can easily believe that a computer does a better job of that), but rather about decreased visibility, no visible road markings, etc.

> And I'm sure they can handle aggressive or

Fairly easy I guess. Just be defensive, put a bit of distance between you and them.

> undisciplined drivers.

Much harder. Not from a safety perspective (again, just be defensive), but from a I'd-like-to-arrive-at-some-point perspective. Because then again it becomes about human interaction (being assertive without being an asshole, muddling your way through this blocked intersection through essentially non-verbal communication with the drivers around you), and computers will (inherently, perhaps) be worse at that than humans.

> Conversely, there are situations that AVs will handle much much better than humans already (a neighborhood with a lot of kids running around and shrubs occluding them for example).

Except, again, that humans will be able to judge body language or the rules of a game the children are playing, and anticipate instead of being confined to reacting (which the computer will indeed be better at, I agree).

Perhaps my pessimism also stems from the fact that the oh-so-smart driving assistants in my car are so shitty (read my other posts if you're interested) :-)

EDIT: Thanks for the interesting discussion so far.

>I agree on the first and third milestones. Or kinda -- perhaps the first milestone is only reached for California, or for US highways yet

My anecdotal experience shows that there exist vehicles capable of tooling around on highways and city streets without the need for human interaction.

>but from a I'd-like-to-arrive-at-some-point perspective. Because then again it becomes about human interaction (being assertive without being an asshole, muddling your way through this blocked intersection through essentially non-verbal communication with the drivers around you), and computers will (inherently, perhaps) be worse at that than humans.

There's a good video I've seen about how the Google cars can increase their assertiveness until they can go.

>Except, again, that humans will be able to judge body language or the rules of a game the children are playing, and anticipate instead of being confined to reacting

Not if they can't see the children because, as I said, they're behind trees.

>Perhaps my pessimism also stems from the fact that the oh-so-smart driving assistants in my car are so shitty

Indeed, that's why I clarify that Adaptive Cruise Control isn't the same thing as an autonomous vehicle and you shouldn't use one to judge the other.

>Because then again it becomes about human interaction (being assertive without being an asshole, muddling your way through this blocked intersection through essentially non-verbal communication with the drivers around you)

That's one of the things that most strikes me about driving in Manhattan. In large areas of Manhattan, at least at certain times of day, you have to be almost insanely aggressive from the perspective of tooling around Mountain View on the average day. Otherwise, you're not going anywhere and are going to have everyone blaring their horns at you. (Plus, pretty much every pedestrian will take advantage of your timid driving to cross the street in front of you while you're hesitating.)

Visibility issues with the sensors aside, I'd probably trust a computer in the snow vs. most humans. Less prone to be overconfident in their stopping/steering abilities.

> Visibility issues with the sensors aside,

You got what I was aiming for, yes.

That plus difficulty in understanding streets obscured by a cover of snow, etc.

> Less prone to be overconfident in their stopping/steering abilities.

Very true. Computers have weaknesses, but vanity is not one of them :-)

> I'd probably trust a computer in the snow vs. most humans.

I have a car (2016 model) with several fancy assistants.

The lane-following assistant (which only works in very limited, benign conditions anyway) is regularly confused by shadows on pleasant days. Or by puddles on less pleasant days.

The car-following cruise control has missed a 40t semitrailer and would have merrily accelerated right into it.

The car-following cruise control regularly panics because it suddenly interprets guardrails or street signs as cars. On an empty road. This is not nice, because it has braking authority.

The computer in my car, at least, can absolutely not be trusted.

What kind of car do you have?

BMW 225xe Active Tourer (yeah it's a mouthful :-) ).

There are fully autonomous vehicles driving around Mountain View all the time. They are not 10 years off, it is now.

"fully autonomous around Mountain View" is not equivalent to "fully autonomous". In particular, Uber can't just take the former and deploy it everywhere.

They don't need to deploy it everywhere.

Even if it can only navigate between SFO and Mountain View, that's ready to deploy as a commercial venture. There will be an adoption ramp anyway. It will just follow the driving difficulty gradient.

In practical terms, it's ready now. Driving people home from the ski area in a blizzard will be the final task, but it doesn't need to be solved to put both Uber and GM out of business.

There is a bit of a misunderstanding in this thread I think.

I (and others, I believe) were arguing when a car we would want to buy could forgo a steering wheel.

You're right that e.g. Uber could have a steering-wheel-less fleet that they simply retire in adverse conditions, sooner than that.

Automonous cars that you buy won't be an important product historically, except as a data collection strategy for Tesla etc. Autonomous carshare will be at least half of the mobility market, eventually eating all but the very wealthiest customers, plus driving enthusiasts.

"want to buy" is a pretty nebulous and person thing. It doesn't seem meaningful to talk about without fully qualifying much less say "it's not possible". We can move the goalposts all we want but those sorts of cars are imminent for at least early adopters. If you want to say you won't feel comfortable for another 10 years, great, but that doesn't mean the event hasn't happened. It's a tremendous accomplishment. I've seen the fully autonomous cars making lefts on El Camino that I just would not do, ever, and they do it perfectly.

> We can move the goalposts all we want

I wasn't aware I did that.

> but those sorts of cars are imminent for at least early adopters

without steering wheels? Dear God I hope not.

I use driving assistants in my car, but I'm painfully aware of their limitations. These days we absolutely still need a steering wheel. In my car for mundane situations, in Elon's miracle machines maybe only to park in an utterly unmarked field at a festival or whatever.

It has already happened as I've said repeatedly. I'll stop bleeding karma pointing out reality.

What do those do when an intersection light is out and a crew is directing traffic?

Ask the human to confirm when it is safe to proceed.

...and have some kind of UI to explain to the car whether to pass the work crew on the left or on the right.

I dunno, maybe some kind of wheel in front of the human, which they could turn left or right to command the car to change direction ;-P

No, just ask.

I grew up thinking we'd have supersonic airliners any day now.

We had supersonic airliners for nearly 30 years.

That's the joke. We had a supersonic airliner, just like we have some cars driving around without steering wheels. But in 30 years the technology never got good enough to become mainstream.

The Concorde wasn't a case of us not being able to build it, though. It was a case of it just not being worth it to operate. Concorde technology was generally fine (27 years in operation). But supersonic transport is a niche even for wealthy people.

And it's not just snow and things like that. I'm in NYC this weeek which I think we can agree is not some rural backwater irrelevant to the rollout of vehicles. Has anyone who thinks the vehicles tooling around Silicon Valley suburbs with a driver to take over seriously think they can navigate Times Square at rush hour (or theater getting out)? People are everywhere. Bicycles are flying in and out. Cars are jamming themselves into turns. Etc. I find this sort of driving difficult and I have plenty of experience with urban driving.

The big car companies doing automatic driving (Ford, Volvo, etc.) are talking about 2020 as the rollout year for the technology. They're public about this because the supply chain has to get ready. Continental, the parts maker, says they'll have automotive LIDAR units in mass production in 2020. Not because they can't do it sooner, but because they can't turn on the production line until there are volume orders. Prototypes, of course, will be available much sooner. Probably now.

You have to keep in mind that Musk gives his predictions in Martian years.

Its complicated from ubers perspective though. Their product is "transportation as reliable as running water". How long until autonomy becomes that reliable?

Thinking specifically about: Weather, Supply shocks (morning/evening rush hour, concerts, professional sports games, parades)

> Their product is "transportation as reliable as running water".

Running water is very reliable. AWS can't keep a reliability zone working that reliably, and that's a rather easier problem than transportation.

Thing is, they don't have to rely 100% on autonomy. They can start introducing autonomous cars, in competition with human drivers, and adjust that number dynamically on an hourly basis. With the higher profits of those rides, they could even pay the human drivers more during those "supply shocks", as a kind of self-funded surge pricing, to fill up those gaps.

Musk misses the deaclones he sets for himself constantly. Maybe always?

probably now Uber will focus more on the Uber Elevate project


What can Uber do if they lose?

They could become business consultants, for businesses that operate in regions with minimal human rights protections :(

Hope Google buys them for a tenth of what they're worth now.

Food delivery business?

Because who needs health & safety regulations.

Not very likely considering Postmates has the majority of the market.

Does it? There's a lot of competition in food delivery: Postmates, UberEATS, Caviar, DoorDash, Delivery.com, Grubhub/Seamless, and a few days ago I just heard of another one, EatStreet.

Pet food delivery business?


Buried at the end of the article:

> Update: Judge Alsup has also referred the case to the U.S. Attorney for a possible criminal investigation.


Also from that article:

...as Uber has argued that it can’t release documents related to its acquisition of Otto without violating its employee’s 5th Amendment rights.

I'm certainly not a lawyer, but that's not at all how I thought the 5th Amendment works.

You're missing the context:

Judge Alsup: "Even though he is not a defendant here, moreover, Levandowski’s assertion of his Fifth Amendment privilege has obstructed and continues to obstruct both discovery and defendants’ ability to construct a complete narrative as to the fate of Waymo’s purloined files. As a practical matter, it is hard to imagine how consolidating proceedings as to Levandowski and defendants, whether here or in arbitration, could alleviate these difficulties."

The judge raises this to show that Levandowski's interests and Uber's interests are not aligned. Thus, consolidating Waymo vs. Levandowski (which doesn't exist) with Waymo vs. Uber is not an option. Thus, Uber can't claim that Levandowski's arbitration contract with Waymo covers Uber's problems. Therefore, Waymo can insist their case against Uber go to trial.

I think his point is: isn't that a bogus thing for Uber to claim? That it can't release documents because of someone else's fifth amendment privilege?

It's not like Uber is married to Levandowski and has spousal privilege against testifying against him (although Uber sure is acting like they're married!). Can't they simply release the documents because they choose to?

I don't see how Uber choosing to release documents that they have access to (which is not even testifying, by the way - it's just complying with discovery) can possibly violate someone else's fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination. Perhaps a lawyer could speculate on whether a claim like this can have any merit.

"I think his point is: isn't that a bogus thing for Uber to claim? That it can't release documents because of someone else's fifth amendment privilege? "

This is generally correct. The privilege is personal, you cannot assert it on behalf of other people.

(not to mention you can't assert it to prevent someone else from incriminating you. IE you can't assert it to prevent your friend from giving evidence against you, even about something you said :P)

IANAL, but it does seem like a claim that won't hold up in court.

I thought I remembered one item that had Judge Alsup noting that Uber could require Levandowski to testify as a condition of employment. If Levandowski refuses to testify, it is then up to Uber to fire him. Uber doesn't get a 5th amendment protection. If one of Uber's employees refuses to comply in a civil suit against Uber, Uber then has the choice of not complying with the court or firing the employee and telling the court that it no longer controls the employee. The employee likewise has the option to testify or be terminated.

Ultimately, Uber would prefer to keep the documents secret. As a legal strategy, it makes sense to try anything that might keep the documents secret. If your back is against the wall, you push on any avenue that might get a judge to decide that you don't need to show something damaging - even if it's a long shot.

There is something unnerving about being required to incriminate yourself OR go bankrupt. Let's say that Google had sued Levandowski rather than Uber and Levandowski had to either 1) produce the documents that would incriminate him or 2) let Google win a billion dollar lawsuit against him without contesting it. At that point, is there really a meaningful 5th amendment protection if an opponent can just sue you in court and win either by forcing you to waive it or by default?

At that point, is there really a meaningful 5th amendment protection if an opponent can just sue you in court and win either by forcing you to waive it or by default?

But the 5th amendment isn't meant to protect a person in a civil case. It's all about what the government can do in a criminal case. So in your example, there aren't just two options (incriminate yourself OR go bankrupt). There is the potential for a third option: go to prison. Most would say that avoiding the third option is the main goal here. So if you go bankrupt during a civil case because you don't want to self-incriminate, then that's the cost for asserting your 5th amendment rights. The 5th amendment isn't about your protecting assets.

Yeah I think that what uber has is called evidence.

Looks that way to me too, according to my reading of this flowchart


There was no "question" asked. Unless the government said "Would you pretty please perhaps give us those documents?" which I'm assuming they didn't.

This Comic is awesome! I will refer to this site whenever I read articles about Court Cases now.

The fifth amendment applies to both criminal and civil cases, if the testimony could be used in a criminal prosecution. The judge has already referred this for criminal prosecution, so Levandowski's apprehension about self-incrimination is certainly warranted. If the files only exist on Levandowski's personal machine(s), then Uber can't comply with the court order without Levandowski incriminating himself.

You are right. That is not how the Fifth Amendment works.

You can only assert your Fifth Amendment rights on your own behalf, not on someone else's behalf. And you can only assert your rights to prevent yourself from incriminating you, not to prevent someone else from incriminating you. (The lawcomic previously linked to has a section on that at http://lawcomic.net/guide/?p=2545)

And even though that is rudimentary Fifth Amendment law, that is nevertheless the argument Levandowski's lawyers made.

If you ask me, Levandowski's lawyers really screwed up here. He's not a party to the case, but on April 4 they filed that motion, saying UBER couldn't disclose facts because they could later be used to convict HIM. It's a stupid argument, and they spent 15 pages on it, alternating between the trite and the absurd. That's a good way to piss off a smart judge. The argument was so incoherent, it was hard for the judge to even figure out what they were asking. Another way to piss off a smart judge. And the argument was disingenuous at best, or deceitful at worst, as it flatly mis-stated the holding of the main case it relied on, which actually said this specific argument is wrong. Amazing way to piss off a judge.

Their argument boiled down to "Uber and Levandowski have a joint defense agreement, so Uber's lawyers can't disclose what Levandowski's lawyers can't disclose." That's not how a JDL works. All a JDL does is let co-defendants' lawyers share info without popping the attorney-client privilege. It has nothing to do with the Fifth Amendment. And it doesn't make Uber's lawyers Levandowski's. Stupid.

But as you read that argument, what they're REALLY saying is "Uber and Levandowski colluded ahead of time, with the awareness that this was some shady shit, to make sure none of this evidence gets disclosed to the court." Or put another way, "Dear Judge: We have an agreement to defraud the court. If we did what you ask, we'd be violating an agreement!" The judge got that message loud and clear.

And the very first words of that motion? That the judge had to read over and over again because it was so hard to understand? They practically INVITE a criminal investigation of Levandowski.

So, after ruling against them on April 10 (https://www.courttrax.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/USDC-CA...), and STILL getting nowhere with Uber and Levandowski, the judge has now very politely obliged.

I think this one hurts more:

A new entry on the docket for the case notes that Waymo’s motion for a preliminary injunction has been partially granted and partially denied, but it’s not clear yet which of Waymo’s requests the judge will honor.

Judge Alsup is one of the sharpest minds on the bench. That's going to cause a lot of sleepless nights.

As soon as you said this I recognized his name, its the judge that learned Java in the Oracle vs Google case

And then the appeals court who didn't know Java overturned his ruling.


I hope this is meant with sarcasm

Unlike you and I, many people don't speak sarcasm.

"It is unfortunate that Waymo will be permitted to avoid abiding by the arbitration promise it requires its employees to make."

The idea of forcing people into arbitration has crept into every agreement and contract that Americans enter, and it's out of control. Congress needs to pass a law forbidding contracts from forcing individuals into arbitration.

> Congress needs to pass a law forbidding contracts from forcing individuals into arbitration.

Congress, unfortunately, passed almost exactly the opposite law. The American courts traditionally disfavored binding arbitration, viewing it as a kind of illegitimate private court usurping the power of the proper courts. The Federal Arbitration Act (1925) overturned that norm with regard to federal-court cases, and the Supreme Court controversially ruled in 1984 [1] that the FAA preempted state anti-arbitration laws as well, which is when binding arbitration really began to take off.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southland_Corp._v._Keating

>Congress needs to pass a law forbidding contracts from forcing individuals into arbitration.

Hold on there. Let's not dismiss it out of hand - bypassing the court system and getting things resolved quickly has benefits. And I suspect the arbitration system is itself a response to some judicial excesses and the insane American lawsuit-happy culture.

I'm not saying there aren't problems, and the judicial system should be there, but it's not bad if people solve their own problems without government involvement.

A faster alternative to courts is a good idea. However, the existing arbitration system is biased exceptionally heavy towards repeat customers (and that comes in addition to inherent bias of reality towards deeper pockets).

Unlike a judge, an arbiter who finds against a company will not get their repeat business; that's an inherent conflict of interest.

When both parties agree to take a specific dispute to arbitration, great. Writing it into lopsided contracts is abusive bullshit though.

Arbitration must remain voluntary, as your right to a proper court must not be violated.

Again, I'm not sure about that. Speaking in generalities, why can't two parties enter into binding arbitration? For example, divorce arbitration can be significantly cheaper than going through the court system but it only works if it's binding otherwise one unsatisfied party can simply ignore the ruling.

they first need to forbid people to sue for whatever they feel like, especially when its intentionally bullshit, just to drive the other party into bankruptcy.

I believe it's already illegal to knowingly file a spurious lawsuit.

Sure. But proving it to the point that you can make the other party pay for it, without going bankrupt yourself, is not easy.

No one claimed it was. It's not easy to prove you were raped either and the majority of people don't seem to have any problem with that. We have work to do, but the problem doesn't seem to be the law itself.

its not your job to prove you were raped. its the prosecutions job to do that.

the majority of people has a problem with rape going unpunished. but criminal justice is a bit fickle, because you cant just make it easier to convict people without having the false conviction rate shoot through the roof. and in a free society, youd rather err a bit on the side of letting some people who did commit crimes go.

Binding arbitration has its place. Look at the binding arbitration decision between Qualcomm and Blackberry, which is resulting in Blackberry receiving an $815,000,000 refund from Qualcomm after a royalty dispute involving licensed standard essential patents.

Because it was binding arbitration and not traditional court proceedings, this judgment is not appealable. This compressed what would have been a 10-year drawn out and extremely costly process into five days. That's it!

There are more arguments against binding arbitration when it's an individual against a conglomerate - you get a biased arbitrator and you're sunk with no means of redress.

0) You can appeal arbitration awards within the arbitration company[0].

1) You can appeal arbitration rulings to the court system for a subset of situations (like misconduct or fraud by the arbiters)[1].

[0] http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:VjU7-9v...

[1] https://apps.americanbar.org/litigation/committees/adr/artic...

I remember reading on HN that at least one CMU researcher got paid 3 times their annual salary as a sign on bonus to join the self driving car team. I'm wondering how removed the Pittsburgh team was from Otto.

As a Pittsburgher, CMU alum, and friend to several outstanding Uber engineers, it just make me so angry that a couple greedy jerks could do so much harm to their worthwhile endeavour. And certainly this is bad for Pittsburgh too.

I'm also curious how much of that bonus was stock, and what happens to Uber's stock if Google creams them on this

Or even worse... options. You're tied to Uber with golden handcuffs and no one wants to touch you now that you've been involved in this.

This is a pretty fascinating scenario. Between this and everything else that Uber is going through at the moment, it seems that they are going to have a very rough year.

Here's to hoping that more people start using competitors so that it's easier for me to find a Lyft as quickly as I can find an uber.

It's hard for any competitors to compete with Uber subsidizing each ride with VC money.

Man I hate that this is the end for Uber. I've recently been trialing Lyft and, at least in my area, it always takes longer and is more expensive.

But...if Uber truly is a bunch of scumbags, they deserve to burn.

It's easy to be cheap when you subsidize each ride with VC money.

Huh? And Lyft is just scaling on organic growth??

You do realize Lyft has raised 4+ billion in funding and they aren't profitable either. Their ride prices are Coke and Pepsi similar to Uber in most major US markets. Do the math.

This seems like the correct answer, otoh VC money is still not MY money.

Not that VC mandates are normally more than a few %s of most LP's allocations, it's still someones money; pensions, insurance, etc. all take a hit if VC funds fail.

They can't burn money forever, and while I can't blame anyone for going the cheaper option for now they won't subsidize forever.

> This seems like the correct answer, otoh VC money is still not MY money

This depends on where the 700 billion dollar from the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 ended up.

Why doesn't Lyft do similarly?

The thing is not that Lyft takes longer or is more expensive. The thing is that Lyft is not an Uber competitor for the vast majority of the world. They are US only. In a few markets they have partnerships with local services, but that's it currently.

If Uber suffered hard enough, do you think VC money might shift or otherwise move into Lyft? Even if all of Uber's VC money vaporized? Billionaires gotta make a living too.

>>If Uber suffered hard enough, do you think VC money might shift or otherwise move into Lyft?

Probably not. The main reason Uber got so much VC funding is because they promised investors that they would be treated as a technology services company, which would allow them to ignore various laws and regulations taxi companies are subject to and eventually drive them out of business to become a monopoly.

If Uber fails at executing this business model, it's not clear why investors would take a second chance with another company of the same type.

Are these venture capitalists even seeing a return on their money? I was under the impression that with how much Uber receives and loses, the only people gaining are paid Uber employees and riders getting discounted rides.

Where does the profit come from, and does it go to the VC investors?

Money only goes back to VCs in a liquidation event (IPO or sale). Uber may have made some deals to buy back shares but it has to be limited in scope.

If all the Uber drivers switch to Lyft when/if Uber dies then surely the "takes longer" part will go away.

I have never seen surge rates with Lyft. I find lyft to be more cheaper. There are times when from ORD Chicago, Uber would display surge rates (~$55, normally ~$35). Earlier, I used to call 303 taxi which takes forever. Now, I tried lyft which costed me $34 so competition is good

In my area it is literally the same drivers as uber: all the drivers have 2 phones, one for each app.

The difference is the Uber app consistently underestimates the time to pick up.

I wouldn't at all be surprised if we learn that Uber had written software to detect which users use Lyft and then systematically underestimate the times to pick up for those users.

Well they did get "anonymized" email data from UnRoll.Me.

I've been using Lyft almost exclusively since Susan Fowler's blog post (only using Uber if Lyft has a surge and Uber doesn't), and it's really getting on my nerves how many Lyft drivers use Waze.

Waze is spectacularly terrible at everything. The algorithm is designed to take you out of your way to run up the meter, it encourages unsafe turns, and it's literally unable to navigate to where I live, so I straight-up refuse to ride in any car with Waze running. And yet Lyft recommends it to new drivers. It's not uncommon for me to walk out of cars because the driver pitched a hissy fit when I said "Please don't use Waze", and even when I don't walk out of the car I usually end up having to navigate the driver manually because Waze is the only thing they have installed.

Using Lyft has become a thoroughly unpleasant experience, but I'm not comfortable using Uber either for ethical reasons. I'm considering looking into what it would cost to straight-up hire a private driver as an on-call employee.

Uber is not much cheaper compared to the normal black cabs for my journeys to the train station. Maybe around 40p-£1 so not a biggy

Why would this be the end? It's not like they're dependent on self-driving cars.

Their CEO disagrees with you.

>“If we are not tied for first, then the person who is in first, or the enemy that’s in first, then rolls out a ride-sharing network that is far cheaper or far higher quality than Uber’s, then Uber is no longer a thing,” Kalanick said.

>“It starts with understanding that the world is going to go self-driving and autonomous,” he told Business Insider in an interview. “So if that’s happening, what would happen if we weren’t a part of that future? If we weren’t part of the autonomy thing? Then the future passes us by basically, in a very expeditious and efficient way.”

Well, I think he's wrong. I don't think Uber would have won the space anyway and I think self-driving cars will require a driver behind the wheel for a long long time, effectively eliminating any benefits for Uber.

They need investments to keep uber running as-is. And without the possibility to self-driving cars obliterating the need for drivers a huge part of the story uber sells to investors breaks away.

Uber should probably be shitting it's pants right about now. Google would have to really bungle this to not get a jury to agree Uber has been acting very shady.

Google doesn't have to convince a jury of anything to win. All they need to do is hold up Uber's next funding round for long enough to force them to drop out of a few markets.

Yeah, when you put it that way you realize how screwed the system is for the little guy. I am no fan of Uber's, and if they did what Waymo alleges they should be packing up shop, but I imagine it can be brutal for startups having that extra risk associated with your brand.

I'm not sure "screwed for the little guy" is really the right way to look at this. If Uber weren't so dependent on VC to subsidize their growth, delaying a funding round wouldn't be quite so disastrous. It's entirely possible to be the little guy without putting yourself in the situation that Uber has gotten themselves into.

Uber is not at all the "little guy".

No sorry, awkwardly worded gp. I meant that it made me realize how bad it is for little guys in Uber's position, who are basically punished until proven innocent and probably don't have the war chest Uber does. (Uber's still the little guy in this particular fight, but I agree they aren't a little guy anymore)

Uber is the "Little guy" ?

I think they are talking about any situation where a smaller business is sued by a larger one; the larger party doesn't have to be right, they just need to have enough funds to stalemate the smaller party until they get driven out of business.

How long can Uber go without more money? They've raised billions, but they are burning through billions to subsidize growth. I don't see Uber doing too well if this drags on.

Honestly, I'd bet they can stop subsidizing growth at this point and not die.

Sure, competitors will start to gain more traction, but they're already in a lot of markets and competitors can't afford to have the same coverage as Uber. So while they'll lose a lot of people that are only local (see Austin for an example of this happening in a more complete way), I think they will retain pretty much all international/business travel type business, which is a pretty big moneymaker, just due to the convenience of "one app".

e.g. when I fly from London to the states, I take an Uber to the airport in London and take an Uber from the airport wherever I land (assuming they have Uber). One app, one linked credit card, etc.

I don't want a different on-demand car app for each city I happen to visit, which is where Uber will win out for the foreseeable future.

This is an often overlooked point. Uber is the only one in this space with a global brand. And they're very deeply entrenched in international markets - I can use Uber in a tiny city in the UK the same way I can in the US. The actual local implementation is different (here Uber is a fully fledged private hire firm), but the brand and the experience remain consistent.

I don't think a normal jury will understand the details but being that it's in the bay area maybe they will!

I think this is much simpler than Oracle v Google concerning Java APIs. Levandowski stole thousands of documents from Google, started a competitor using those documents, then sold his startup to Uber. And the timeline makes it look like Uber was involved from the beginning.

I think that's what works to Google's benefit. They don't need the jury to understand the technical details if they can convince the jury that Uber has a history of acting unethical and this just another data point with evidence.

Always interesting to see two companies with an unlimited lawyer fund go at it in court.

This case reminds me of the glory days of Samsung vs. Apple in intensity and interest in the case, except it's not all wildly up in the air. It's fairly straightforward as to what side "looks" good, and it feels like it's more of determining just how bad the damage is and how far set back Uber will be.

I don't remember the Apple v Samsung case being up in the air; I recall widespread shock on HN at the verdict, when it looked like it would be anything but. If you look back at comments from the time, most HN commenters felt vindicated when the award was reduced on appeal.

I wasn't around here during that dispute. As I remember it (and I could be off substantially), both sides were slinging mud at each other drawn out over a long period of many months. Both had large patent portfolios to throw at each other, along with accusations about seemingly stupid stuff, like apple suggesting Samsung not make rectangular phones.

Did Apple vs Samsung seem as clear cut as Uber vs Google does now?

Apple and Samsung sued and counter-sued in all following nations: Germany, Japan, US, Australia, EU.

Only the jury trial in Silicon Valley ended favorably for Apple. And that with a jury foreman who had a very questionable patent himself. After the trial he was saying stuff in interviews that showed he had a pretty strong bias for Apple for a few days, and than he went silent suddenly. Some suggested Apple or someone asked him to keep quiet. But who knows.

The legal battle between Apple and Samsung was literally fought on more continents than WW2. WW2 wasn't fought in US but Apple-Samsung battle did take place in US.

> The legal battle between Apple and Samsung was literally fought on more continents than WW2. WW2 wasn't fought in US but Apple-Samsung battle did take place in US.

North America (Pearl Harbor, Fort Stevens)




Australia ( Darwin, Sydney, battle of Brisbane )

Pearl Harbor is not in North America, it's in in Hawaii. Comparing the Fort Stevens incident to actual warfare is ridiculous.

You Don't talk about the Battle of Brisbane.

The shock was also because the jury awarded damage randomly, such as specific model being cited for violating patent there weren't (eg square phones being cited for violating rounded patent). That's where a lot of the reduction came from in appeal.

If you think the legal funds of these two companies are remotely equal...

Looks like Uber isn't hurting for lawyers. After a few tens of millions, spending 10x more doesn't get 10x more chances in court or better arguments.

Uber might even be able to pay them with stock...

You can get an awful lot of lawyers with the $11 billion Uber has raised. When you're talking multi billion dollar companies facing off you can bet they each have the 2 most expensive lawfirms in the country representing them.

Uber is still losing money though and fast. Their entire competitive advantage is that they have a shit ton of VC funding to subsidize rides with. They've been able to survive this long because they've always been able to raise more money on the promise that they might not lose money someday, presumably when they have self-driving cars. Now that the lawsuit has put their future in question they're going to have a lot more trouble getting another round of funding.

But one is venture-funded, the other warchest-funded. That is not equal footing; the pools of money are not infinite and Uber's is both shallower and far less ensured.

Yet Uber is the one who is trying to make it slow and painful by refusing to share the information needed to clarify the situation. When you add the two together, it's hard to feel bad for them; clearly they wouldn't act like that if they didn't have something shady going on.

I have a feeling that as soon as the case against Uber is done, Google is going to go after Lewandowski...try to teach him a lesson and send a message to other Googlers thinking about doing the same.

For strategic reasons they might have chosen to go after Uber first

> Google is going to go after Lewandowski

Um... Lewandowski is going to jail.

>Um... Lewandowski is going to jail.

That'll be interesting. He has "buy your way into non-extradition country" level funds. He can move in with Snowden maybe, and launch the Russian Uber?

- Hi Janice (teller at bank,) I would like to withdraw $25 million.

-- Um, OK let me see...( Hello, FBI /Secret Service /FINCERN)

I have a feeling he's being watched, unless he planned it years ago. FBI can probably charge him within hours and freeze everything. Also non-extradition isn't it for citizens of that country? Never underestimate the pressure USA can put on countries, especially for run-of-the-mill-crimes.

>Also non-extradition isn't it for citizens of that country?

That's what I meant by He has "buy your way into non-extradition country" level funds. 100's of millions buys special treatment.

As for his funds, he isn't currently charged with a crime.

I am surprised Google hasn't tried a Sergey Aleynikov, on him yet.

That's Part A. Part B is going after his money. I'd go to jail for hundreds of millions, which he has /had.

Clearly you've never been in jail.

Jail for hundreds of millions of dollars..if I got to keep it? I'd do it. Nope, never been to jail and I know it's dangerous, but then no doubt it's navigable, with that type of crime and money.

Not if I already had $120 mil like he had, of course.

He already had 120+ millions. Would you go to jail for 300 million if you already had 120?

Nope, even $3 mil would be FU money for me. No private jet but it's not like I have one now.

What are you going to do with your hundreds of millions when you're in jail?

I wouldn't be surprised if there is already an investigation underway.

After reading Judge Alsup's opinion, I'd be very concerned if I were Uber. Certainly not sympathetic to Uber's arguments.

That being said, I was a bit surprised by his decision. I was one of the attorneys for the prevailing defendant in the Torbit v. Datanyze case that Judge Alsup heavily cites (but disagrees with). Judge Alsup distinguishes that case, in part, on the basis that California state law does not support its holding. But the California Court of Appeals just expressly adopted the holding in Torbit in a case a few weeks ago.

Fantastic news. The sooner Uber is no longer a company, the better. Possible criminal charges are the icing on the cake.

Uber is claiming that Waymo has to enter arbitration because Lewandowski had an arbitration agreement with them when he worked there.

Imagine if that was legally correct. Suppose a fellow worked at 5 companies in the course of 10 years, and with each company his contract included an arbitration clause and other interesting items.

Then company #5 would have to honor everything relevant in the previous 4 contracts. What a mess that would be. Alsup was right to reject Uber's claim.

The articles keep referring to Waymo at "Waymo LLC". Almost every venture I've seen has been a corporation, not LLC... anything interesting as to why it's a LLC?

Limited Liability Corporation just has to do with the number and composition of shareholders. Most likely, Waymo has one shareholder: Alphabet, Inc.

This is common among subsidiaries of large companies. If you look at the contracts you sign with your mobile phone provider or rental car agency, you'll probably see that you're contracting with a local subsidiary LLC.

Limited Liability Company. An LLC is not a corporation although it may choose to be taxed as one. Chances are Waymo, as a wholly owned subsidiary is a single member LLC and a disregarded entity for tax purposes.

Thanks for the correction!

Probably because it's a subsidiary of Google, an LLC is a simpler structure, and probably allows for no taxation and straightforward financial pass through , but I'm not a lawyer and I don't know any more specifics.

What % would Uber's stock drop today if it were a public company?

On the secondary market shares have only dropped 15-20% total since all these Uber scandals started. That still values Uber at $50-55 billion.

Seriously? That's pretty shocking to me. I wonder if the secondary market was already pricing in some of the information with insider knowledge. Or another theory, in the null-scandal world, maybe Uber would have been up 50% in the same time period based on other information.

I mean, even before this wave of scandals started, everyone already knew that Uber and Kalanick were sleazy as hell, so I suppose if you assume efficient markets it isn't that surprising that they priced it in already.

Have you seen United Airlines' stock price?

Wow! That's a large drop! Can you link me to any news reports of that?

If you're an investor with access to a private equity market you can just look at the cap table and see the current asking price to determine the discount.

Where is Uber available on the secondary market? It's not available through either EquityZen or SharesPost.

Uber is available via collateralized equity markets like Equidate.

that's because you can't short the issue in the private secondary markets. if this was in the public markets, the hit would be significantly higher, and the short-squeeze would be happening.


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