Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving auto company, has signed a deal with ride-sharing service Lyft to develop new autonomous vehicle technologies.
Waymo has some of the most advanced self-driving vehicle technology and has been looking for partners, while Lyft offers ride services in about 300 US cities. Lyft has the best self-driving technology and partnering with them will speed up the company's vision of simplifying transportation around the world.
Waymo's suit alleges that former employee Levandowski stole 14,000 files full of self-driving trade secrets when he moved on to found his own self-driving vehicle company, Otto, which Uber later acquired for $680 million.
While Levandowski will no longer be able to work on one of the most important sensors for self-driving cars, an Uber spokesperson told CNBC that it is pleased it can continue on its overall technology.
The ruling did not shut down Uber's self-driving vehicle lab entirely, which would likely have been a major blow as the company is betting its current ride services network will eventually rely on self-driving cars.
On Monday Waymo signed a deal with Lyft, Uber's main USA competitor, to test its self-driving technology.
On Thursday, Alsup also referred the allegations to prosecutors to review for a possible criminal case.
The company inked a deal with General Motors past year to test autonomous vehicles in the U.S.
Most major automakers and several other technology firms have been stepping up efforts on autonomous driving in recent years, contending these systems will eliminate the vast majority of road accidents. "Waymo has also sufficiently shown, for purposes of the instant motion only, that the 14,000-plus purloined files likely contain at least some trade secrets, and that some provisional relief is warranted while this case progresses toward trial".
Although neither company has made an official announcement, representatives from both independently verified the partnership in statements. Waymo recently began to recruit Phoenix-area residents to join one of the largest efforts yet to put ordinary people inside self-driving cars. Uber, which is valued privately by investors at close to $US70 billion ($94 billion), dwarfs Lyft (which is now only available in the US) in the ride-sharing arena, while Google is neck-and-neck with Uber in a race to develop autonomous vehicles. Uber's Autonomous Vehicle Group (ATG) now employs some 500 people - many of them engineers and developers - in Steel City.