Tag Archives: Gadget News

Waymo: Uber stole our self-driving car tech

Waymo logo

Waymo was launched by Google last year.


Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

Waymo, a self-driving car company owned by Google parent Alphabet, dropped a lawsuit on Uber on Thursday, alleging the ride-hailing company stole trade secrets to bolster its own autonomous car efforts.

The 28-page lawsuit focuses on Otto, a self-driving trucking company that Uber acquired last year. The suit charges that Anthony Levandowski, a former Google employee, downloaded 14,000 “highly confidential” files describing self-driving technology research and brought them to Otto, which he co-founded.

Parts of the lawsuit read like a spy novel. Waymo alleges Levandowski, who now works at Uber, used special software to access the files and reformatted his computer to cover his tracks. It says Uber used the information after it acquired Otto.

The lawsuit complicates the already-difficult relationship between the two companies. GV, Alphabet’s venture capital arm, invested in Uber in 2013. It was one of the firm’s most high-profile deals.

“Our parent company Alphabet has long worked with Uber in many areas, and we didn’t make this decision lightly,” Waymo said in a blog post. “However, given the overwhelming facts that our technology has been stolen, we have no choice but to defend our investment and development of this unique technology.”

“We take the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously,” an Uber spokeswoman said. “We will review this matter carefully.”

Self-driving cars are a red-hot area of research in the automotive industry. Autonomous vehicles show the potential to greatly reduce or even eliminate the tens of thousands of deaths that occur on US roads every year. The technology may also reduce traffic jams, a major fuel and time waster in US cities. Equipment suppliers, start-ups and big tech companies, in addition to automakers, are all developing self-driving car technology.

Uber has been pursuing its own self-driving car research and pilot programs. Last year, it attempted to use self-driving cars to pick up passengers on San Francisco streets. The program was halted because the company didn’t have a permit to operate self-driving cars in California.

Waymo’s suit specifically calls out trade secrets related to “lidar” technology, laser arrays used in self-driving car research to detect objects in a car’s environment.

Waymo said it learned of the alleged theft after a vendor accidentally emailed a Waymo employee, with an attached diagram of an Uber lidar circuit board.

“This circuit board bears a striking resemblance to Waymo’s own highly confidential and proprietary design and reflects Waymo trade secrets,” the lawsuit said.

The suit charges that Levandowski went to great lengths to get the files then cover his tracks.

Levandowski downloaded “specialized software” to access the files, downloaded 9.7 gigabytes of confidential information, then transferred the data to an external hard drive.

After that, he installed a new operating system, “attempting to erase any forensic fingerprints,” the lawsuit said.

Read the rest of the lawsuit below. It’s a page turner.

First published Feb. 23, 3:25 p.m. PT.

Update, 5:54 p.m.: Adds background, material from the lawsuit.

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Life, disrupted: In Europe, millions of refugees are still searching for a safe place to settle. Tech should be part of the solution. But is it?

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/google-spin-off-waymo-accuses-uber-of-stealing-self-driving-tech/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Acer is making an air quality monitor

Acer’s next project is a different type of monitor than you might expect from the company. It’s an air quality monitor, actually. No, wait; where are you going? “The Acer Air Monitor features a sleek and simple design, the device allows real-time monitoring of key air quality indicators through a dedicated app for smartphones, and by the changing colors of a breathing LED light embedded on the chassis,” the company said in a press release. It all sounds very exciting.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/23/acer-is-making-an-air-quality-monitor/

How to watch LG’s G6 unveiling live

LG is stepping into the world’s biggest phone show with a new flagship handset, the LG G6.

The event, which takes place this Sunday, February 26 in Barcelona, will kick off the press day of Mobile World Congress. The fun begins at 12:00 noon Spanish time from the Sant Jordi Club, just next to the city’s Olympic Stadium. That’s 11 a.m. if you’re in the UK, but it’s more than a little early on a Sunday morning for US residents at 6:00 a.m. ET and 3:00 a.m. PT.

If you’re up and about, you can watch it on LG’s live stream above. And if you live elsewhere, here’s the start time for your place on the planet.

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LG

Though the official details of the G6 are still under wraps, LG has been releasing choice morsels about the phone over the past few weeks. CNET’s Lynn La expects it to have a bezel-less display with rounder edges, a waterproof design and Google Assistant AI software built in. But unlike the previous phone in the LG G family, the G5, the G6 won’t have a modular design.

CNET will be on the ground in Barcelona to bring you full coverage of the G6 in words, pictures and video so check back with us then.

Mobile World Congress: Catch CNET’s full coverage.

CNET Magazine: Check out a sampling of the stories you’ll find in CNET’s newsstand edition.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/lg-l6-reveal-mobile-world-congress-event/#ftag=CAD590a51e

How to get banned from Disney’s Club Penguin in under 30 seconds

But, it could actually be done much more quickly. As Kevin writes in the comments on YouTube, if there were a way for him to bypass email activation, which is needed for chat and thus banning, he could’ve cut the time down to an expedient 20.1 seconds. If you want to try and best his time for yourself, Kevin has uploaded what you’ll need to GitHub. Be quick, though — Club Penguin shuts down March 29th.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/23/how-to-get-banned-from-disneys-club-penguin-in-under-30-seconds/

Google Doodle celebrates Trappist-1 planetary discovery

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Google

Dwarf star Trappist-1 is tiny, just a little bigger than Jupiter, but it’s making huge news today. As you’ve probably heard, it’s not home to just three Earth-like exoplanets, but a massive seven, three of which could have oceans of water, just like Earth. And it’s only 39 light-years away, which means the planets are close enough that we could find out.

Usually Google Doodles are planned in advance, and celebrate anniversaries and other occasions, but today, the web giant is pulling out all the stops to help commemorate this discovery with an animated Doodle.

Telescopes are already turning their attentions to the system, homing in on the planets’ atmospheres. As they pass in front of the star, the atmospheres are back-lit, which allows spectroscopic analysis of their chemical composition, which will help determine whether there is liquid water. This may be a bit difficult, as the star is very faint, but with a new generation of telescopes seeing first light in the near future, Trappist-1’s secrets might not be so far away either.

In the meantime, you can play with an interactive model of the system on NASA’s website.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/google-doodle-celebrates-trappist-1-planetary-discovery/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Google’s ride-sharing platform is expanding beyond the Bay Area

While Waze’s carpool service is likely to take a chunk of Uber’s business (which Alphabet is also invested in through it’s venture capital arm Google Ventures), the Waze approach to ride-sharing is a little more casual. As Waze CEO Noam Bardin told the Wall Street Journal, “can we get the average person on his way to work to pick someone up and drop them off once in a while? That’s the biggest challenge.”

Because riders are technically only reimbursing the driver for mileage, trips in the Bay Area are much cheaper than a comparable Lyft or Uber ride: $4.50 to get from Oakland to downtown San Francisco for Waze versus $10-12 minimum for the competition, according to the Journal. The downside is that Waze rides need to be booked further in advance and the service has a less consistent base of drivers. At the moment, riders only pay 54 cents per mile, all of which goes directly to the driver, but the company says it is planning to charge riders an extra 15 percent fee if the service catches on.

Although Waze has not yet announced which cities will be adding the service, any congested city with a large commuter population is a likely target. The service is already available in Tel Aviv, where Waze was originally based, but the Journal hints that further global expansion could come to São Paulo, Brazil and the service could eventually factor into Alphabet’s self-driving Waymo project as well.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/22/google-waze-ride-sharing-expansion/