Transportation love triangle
Coming soon to roads near you: an autonomous vehicle love triangle.
Here’s the scene: Uber and Lyft are Shakespearian rivals, bitterly battling it out since basically day one. Now Lyft is teaming up with Waymo, the artist formerly known as “The Google self-driving car project” that Uber jilted by stealing thousands of documents.
A tumultuous past
Uber and Lyft have history rife with strife. Since 2013, Uber employees have ordered and cancelled over 5,000 rides with Lyft to decrease driver availability. Most of these requests came from known Uber recruiters, who essentially tried to poach drivers in instances where they didn’t ghost on the ride request.
When Lyft entered the New York Market, Uber continued to play the villain.
The company texted current Uber drivers falsely claiming they could not legally work for both companies simultaneously.
Now a former Lyft employee is filing a class action lawsuit against Uber, alleging that from 2014 to 2016, the company used software to track Lyft drivers and lure them over to Uber. The suit claims multiple counts of privacy invasion in which Uber identified and tracked Lyft drivers, as well as driver who worked for both companies.
Continuing its villainous streak, former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski was accused of stealing around 14,000 files before leaving to join Uber’s self-driving trucking startup, Otto in early 2016.
A judge recently ruled Uber Technologies is definitely responsible for this, and granted a partial injunction against the company.
So Uber isn’t super-duper grounded, but they must return all documents taken from the Waymo project.
The ruling states Uber can still work on its own autonomous car project so long as the documents are returned by May 31, and Levandowski is removed from any related work.
In a new plot twist, Lyft and Waymo are now getting together. According to insiders, Waymo signed a deal with Lyft to collaborate autonomous vehicle projects. This pairing means Waymo is closer to moving its self-driving cars from the research stage to a commercial market.
So far, Waymo’s vehicles have accrued over three million miles of real-world testing in Arizona, California, Texas, and Washington state. Waymo has partnered with Fiat Chyrsler to establish a minivan fleet, and is in talks with integrating its technology into fleet of Honda test vehicles.
Although few details have been released so far about the Lyft pairing, the companies are already singing each other’s praise.
A Lyft spokesperson said in a statement, “Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation.”
Likewise, Waymo commended Lyft saying, “Lyft’s vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo’s self-driving technology reach more people, in more places.”
Funny how far mutual respect can get you.
Uber has not yet responded about the new couple, but infamous chief executive Travis Kalanick separately noted bringing autonomous cars to the commercial market is “existential” to the future of Uber.
As consumers, we just get to kick back and see if this new pairing will put Uber’s self-driving project on the fast track or if some new, exciting scandal will pop up. Stay tuned for further developments in the autonomous vehicle love triangle.