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Intellectual property, pt. II

Hi there,

Waymo's lawsuit against Otto and parent Uber is the second serious allegation of autonomous IP misappropriation this year (the first being Tesla's suit against Aurora). Both cases feature a veteran self-driving engineer departing to found a startup; Waymo's suit in particular centers around former employees' alleged theft of proprietary designs for the project's self-driving sensor hardware.

Just before the suit, Waymo disclosed the program's heavy investment in hardware, including a “first-of-its-kind” long-range LiDAR. Clearly, the company's suit is an aggressive defense of these proprietary designs and its plans to sell an integrated autonomous hardware-software suite.

Using the CB Insights patent search engine, we surfaced some patents that Google/Waymo have filed on their LiDAR research and its applications (CBI customers can view the full patent search here).



A particularly interesting application published last October details a "long range steerable LiDAR system" – an exact match for the novel system that Waymo's post described.

(Interesting side note: Starsky Robotics, one of two Otto-esque autonomous trucking startups breaking cover this week, has sided with Tesla in the anti-LiDAR camp, citing the wait for LiDAR costs to fall as a "moral hazard.")

With Uber grappling with serious cultural allegations on top of the lawsuit, Lyft may be looking to capitalize, with Wednesday headlines pointing to a new $500M fundraising target.

Other transportation network companies also made news, with Ola raising a $330M downround at a steep discount and Didi also weighing a new financing. The latter's investors are said to be concerned with further dilution, an issue we wrote about back in January.

In light of this, we updated our analysis of the investor networks for the 5 most well-capitalized private TNCs. With Grab recently announcing a startup investment initiative, we also mapped out the investments and acquisitions that these companies have made.



Digging through the social graphs, Waymo is competing with and now suing the portfolio company of fellow Alphabet unit GV, while Didi Chuxing is invested in all four of the other top TNCs. What a scene.

Have a great rest of the week.


Kerry
@kerrygwu

A look into Google/Waymo’s LiDAR patents

We dig through a few of Google's patents in the field. See the patents.
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The investors, investments, and acquisitions of top transportation network companies

We analyze the complex web of backers behind the most well-funded TNCs, as well as the companies' own investments and acquisitions. Check out the visualizations.
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12 trucking tech startups to watch

Many of these trucking tech companies focus on connecting truckers and shippers more efficiently, and providing real-time status updates. See the list.
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This Week in Auto Tech
A curated mix of recent articles on auto tech financings, exits, announcements, hirings, partnerships & perspectives.
Deals
Ola raises downround. The $330M financing led by SoftBank comes with a 30% valuation cut, down to $3.5B (see our downround tracker for more).
Business Standard

Lyft, Didi Chuxing seek funding. Lyft is looking for a $500M round, while Didi is said to be targeting at least $3B.
WSJ (Lyft) / Bloomberg (Didi)

UCAR wants $1B. Didi Chuxing's domestic competitor, listed on an Chinese OTC exchange, is also looking for new financing.
TechCrunch

Chargepoint raises. Daimler committed $82M to EV charge station startup as part of an ongoing $100M round, which will fund Chargepoint's European expansion. We covered Chargepoint and much more in this week's EV webinar.

Fortune

Peloton financing. The truck platooning startup has raised $29.7M of a $50M offering, according to a new SEC filing.
CB Insights / SEC

News
Starsky Robotics. The newly revealed autonomous trucking startup is developing a system that that allows remote driving and does not depend on LiDAR.

TechCrunch

Embark. Also a self-driving truck outfit, Embark began life as the YC-backed autonomous shuttle developer Varden Labs.
Recode

Tesla's all-inclusive package, discrimination suit. The company has already begun offering cars in select Asian markets with maintenance and insurance baked into the price. Tesla also responded to allegations of sexism by a factory worker.
TechCrunch (package) / Electrek (discrimination suit)

Uber reverses course, loses top engineer. After flouting the California DMV's self-driving permit laws and withdrawing to Arizona, Uber will now submit to the program. The TNC also lost another key engineer from its autonomous efforts.
TechCrunch (DMV) / Recode (engineer departure)


Honda establishes AI center. The automaker's "R&D Center X" will be based in Toyko, with a similar mandate as rival Toyota's Research Institute.
WSJ


Faraday hires former BMW CFO. The EV hopeful has brought on Stefan Krause, formerly of BMW and Deutsche Bank, to straighten out its finances.
Electrek

Ford's delivery drone concept. The company's "Autolivery" van and delivery drone fusion is similar to Daimler's last-mile delivery concepts.
The Verge
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