Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber highlights the rush to conquer driverless cars

Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber highlights the rush to conquer driverless cars

Google parent firm Alphabet Inc.-owned Waymo’s recently-field lawsuit against ride-hailing service Uber Technologies highlights the unprecedented rush to conquer the filed of driverless cars.

Filing its lawsuit in a federal court in San Francisco, Waymo alleged that Uber is using a stolen technology in its self-driving cars. According to the suit, former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski stole 14,000 files from its servers a month before leaving to the company to start his own business called Otto.

Otto, a self-driving car technology provider, was later acquired by User for $680 million, and Levandowski is now serving as the head of the ride-hailing firm’s autonomous car division.

Industry experts say that engineers like Levandowski are part of a very limited pool of individuals who own the capability to lead efforts on autonomous cars. Traditional auto makers are increasingly trying to woo such talented people.

Martha Josephson, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based partner of executive recruiting firm Egon Zehnder, said, “What’s in these people’s heads is hugely in demand because the talent pool just doesn’t have enough miles under the wheels.”

Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Google’s autonomous car project who is now serving as CEO of an online teaching start-up called Udacity, said that companies trying to woo driverless car engineering talent are offering more than $10 million per person.