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Both Google and Uber have revolutionized the way people travel and interact. Despite historically focusing their efforts in different fields, both giants now agree that vehicle automation is the concept of the future, and each has acquired companies to develop the technology. It is the space race of transport as to who will perfect the product first and gain the majority of the market share.

        Uber’s ride-hailing service hires drivers to make rounds and collect passengers. For each ride, Uber gives a percentage of the fare to the driver. What if Uber could remove that factor from the equation and keep 100% of the cash flow? The business would increase its profits substantially by cutting this portion of the bottom line. Additionally, with the exponential progress of technology, Uber has revealed interest in creating an automated cargo shipping company with self-driving cars delivering packages around the country.

        Google has been developing self-driving technology for the better part of a decade, far longer than Uber, and is clearly completely dedicated to this vision of the future. They have focused on making travel easier and safer through these automated technologies by eliminating human error.

        As with all competitive scenarios involving billions of invested dollars and secretive technology, there must be a lawsuit mixed in. Anthony Levandowski, the current head of Uber’s self-driving car division, founder of Uber’s 2016 acquisition Otto, a self-driving truck startup, and former higher-up with Google’s automated vehicle department, is at the center of the action. The action involves one of the most crucial components of a self-driving car, the lidar sensor detection system, which simply put, is how the vehicle sees its surroundings.

Google has accused Levandowski of downloading 9.7 gigabytes of vital information, with the potential to transfer it, first to Otto products, and now Uber products. So who’s right?

The case is in the early stages, but initial defenses from Uber and Levandowski state that he downloaded the files in order for them to be developed and worked on from home. Uber also claims that their lidar technology is “clean” and that Google is only raising this issue to slow their competitors. Although the argument that Levandowski downloaded data for home use is plausible, this simple response from arguably the most groundbreaking transport service company in the last decade seems like a  “my dog ate my homework” excuse and a weak attempt to avoid the fact that Uber’s lidar system shares striking similarities with that of Google’s Waymo.

Ultimately, both giants will have their best advocates arguing their perspectives on the issue. Who knows, this Silicon Valley gladiator fight may define the leader in the self-driving car market for decades to come.