Travis Kalanick, the former CEO of Uber, at the trial. Reuters staff

The blockbuster Silicon Valley case settled, clearing the way for the development of more self-driving cars.

Well, it’s over.

The technology world’s most hotly anticipated trial in years has ended in a settlement: This morning, Uber and Waymo announced that the dispute over an alleged theft of trade secrets would be settled for 0.34 percent of Uber’s equity, valued at about $245 million. Waymo had been seeking about $1 billion in damages.

The newish Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi issued a substantial statement, the latest in his line of apologies for the company’s past behavior. He apologized to his own company’s Advanced Technologies Group, which is working on self-driving vehicles, including the semitrucks that were at the heart of the deal that inspired the lawsuit.

Back in early 2016, a longtime Google employee named Anthony Levandowski, then part of the new spinout Waymo, made a shocking series of moves, spinning out his own self-driving truck company, Otto, and then selling it to Uber six months later for $680 million.

Waymo, which is and was acknowledged to be far out ahead of other companiesin developing this technology, suddenly had a formidable new competitor.

But on his way out, Waymo alleges that Levandowski made off with thousands of documents including the design of Waymo’s custom lidar, which is at the very heart of the self-driving vehicle enterprise. Waymo further alleged that Levandowski met with Uber officials two weeks before he even left Waymo, raising the possibility that not only did Levandowski plan to abscond with the trade secrets, but that Travis Kalanick, the former Uber CEO who cut the deal, knew or should have known that was happening.

Tallied up alongside Uber’s other transgressions, the deal was seen as a key sign that Kalanick’s aggressive maneuvering could sometimes cross key ethical lines.

“We agree that Uber’s acquisition of Otto could and should have been handled differently,” Khosrowshahi wrote.

Today’s settlement does not provide a stinging moral rebuke nor does it fully settle what really happened between Levandowski, Kalanick, Uber, and Waymo, but it effectively clears the way for both companies to proceed aggressively into self-driving vehicles, for ride hailing, cargo, and everything else.

“To be clear, while we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber, nor do we believe that Uber has used any of Waymo’s proprietary information in its self-driving technology, we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our lidar and software represents just our good work,” Khosrowshahi concluded.

Waymo, for its part, released a statement essentially celebrating the agreement they’ve come to, which must amount to something like an audit or inspection capability. “We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology,” the spokesperson wrote. “This includes an agreement to ensure that any Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated in Uber Advanced Technologies Group hardware and software.”

Uber fired Levandowski in the spring of last year.

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    A Horrifying Glimpse Into Your Dystopian Future Transit Commute

    A comic artist’s take on what the future of transportation might really feel like.

  2. A cyclist rides on the bike lane in the Mid Market neighborhood during Bike to Work Day in San Francisco,
    Perspective

    Why Asking for Bike Lanes Isn't Smart

    In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.

  3. a photo of bikes on a bridge in Amsterdam
    Transportation

    Street by Street, Amsterdam Is Cutting Cars Out of the Picture

    Armed with a street-design tool called the knip, the Dutch capital is slashing car access in the city center, and expanding public transit hours.

  4. a photo of Extinction Rebellion climate change protesters in London
    Environment

    When Climate Activists Target Public Transit

    The climate protest movement Extinction Rebellion is facing a backlash after disrupting commuters on the London Underground.

  5. Charts

    The Evolution of Urban Planning in 10 Diagrams

    A new exhibit from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association showcases the simple visualizations of complex ideas that have changed how we live.

×