For every high point in Uber's push toward becoming the leading name in the world of self-driving vehicles (see: The company's return to testing in California or its acquisition of artificial intelligence [A.I.] firm Geometric Intelligence), it seems like there is an equal and opposite negative occurrence that sends the organization into a tailspin. Unfortunately, as New York magazine's Jake Swearingen reports, the latest snafu to come Uber's way could be the one that puts the brakes on this company's ambitious prospects for good.

So just what kind of existential threat is Uber facing down this time? According to Swearingen, the peril swirling around one of the biggest names in the world of autonomous vehicle research and development originates from another contender in the field, Google's Waymo, and its accusations of patent infringement and theft of trade secrets.

In terms of how Google came to make such serious claims against Uber, we have to look back to Anthony Levandowski's abrupt departure from the Waymo organization in early 2016. Shortly after this departure, Levandowski set out to start up his own self-driving operation, Otto, which was quickly purchased by Uber for over 500 million dollars.

While this normally wouldn't be all that unusual of a story, the fact that Levandowski accessed Waymo's servers and made off with 9.7 gigabytes (GB) of data before clearing out his desk complicates matters greatly. Adding in an email faux pas that ended up with a supply-chain manufacturer accidentally emailing an attachment meant for Uber and Otto collaborators to a Waymo employee detailing the means for copying some of Google's self-driving technology definitely doesn't help matters either.

From Google's perspective, these events (and the fact that some of Uber's technology bares striking resemblances to Waymo innovations) are more than enough evidence to prove that Levandowski and his latest employer are complicit in the act of stealing the biggest name in the digital world's intellectual property.

Did Uber and its hastily acquired subsidiary Otto hatch a scheme filled to the brim with corporate intrigue and the unwarranted acquisition of Google's trade secrets? Will the San Francisco-based judge presiding over this case see things the same way - and what kind of punishment could our legal system dole out in response to these potential misdeeds?

To answer these questions, make it a point to set aside a few minutes of your day and catch up with Swearingen as he delves into all of the details surrounding this developing story on the other side of the link below.

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