Waymo and Lyft have remained highly secretive about their driverless car programs, but may be forced to reveal a lot about their plans after a judge in a US federal court granted Uber's request to review documents about Waymo and Lyft's partnership.
Waymo and Lyft haven't released the documents yet, but by complying with the court order, we can learn a lot about their business plans and how much they think their project is worth in a few days or weeks.
In Waymo v. Uber, Waymo was forced to reveal details about its driverless program in court filings that it otherwise would not have disclosed in its occasional posts on Medium, Twitter, or its website. In Uber's response earlier this year to Waymo's lawsuit claiming it stole intellectual property for its self-driving car fleet project, Waymo was forced to reveal it was relying on Velodyne to supply its LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors for its driverless cars. Waymo also described in court filings that LiDAR sensors were in short supply.
Lyft, a ride-sharing service in which General Motors' (GM) has invested $500 million, has publicly disclosed it is interested in developing driverless fleet services and has formed a partnership with Waymo to do that but has been tightlipped about details. Uber maintains it needs due diligence-related information about the deal to assess what damages if any, it might have to pay Waymo for allegedly stealing information from their driverless program.
Since a judge has agreed with Uber that Lyft and Waymo most provide the due-diligence information, including the terms of the deal, the court filings may at least reveal what exactly the two firms plan and how much money they can make.
Germany has ratified a law that allows drivers to fully or partially hand over control of their cars to a self-driving vehicle, but there is one catch: the law only applies to drivers and not to the production and sale of vehicles. Before drivers can use the Audi A8 self-drive mode announced yesterday as the car takes over driving in Level 3 mode at up to speeds of 37 mph, Audi must wait for regulatory approval before drivers can use it, which Audi says Germany should grant in 2018.