Kalanick tells court he 'wasn't aware' of Uber report that Levandowski had Google data on disks

Russ Mitchell, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Most autonomous-vehicle experts consider lidar essential to the safe operations of driverless cars. If successful, the driverless vehicle market could be huge.

Waymo attorneys went after Kalanick on Wednesday morning with some eyebrow-raising texts and meeting notes.

On March 1, 2016, Kalanick and Levandowski were working out the Otto deal. "We need to think through the strategy to take all the shortcuts we can find," Levandowski said in a text highlighted in yellow on courtroom video screens.

Waymo attorneys are trying to persuade the jury that Uber procured stolen trade secrets from Levandowski to gain ground on Waymo, which Uber executives said was far ahead in the development of driverless cars.

"Burn the village," Kalanick writes in another text message. Levandowski responds "Yup."

Asked what that meant when he wrote it, Kalanick said he didn't know. "It was two years ago, I just don't remember," he said.

In personal notes from a meeting held earlier about the potential acquisition, which Kalanick attended, another Uber executive made a list of Kalanick directives. "Cheat codes. Find them, use them," the note said.

Kalanick said it's "possible" he said that. To clarify what he might have meant, he said, "Cheat codes are elegant solutions to problems that haven't already been thought of."

For instance, he said, Tesla monitors driver behavior to improve self-driving cars. Uber uses its smartphone app to determine how long cars are waiting at red lights, for better travel time estimation.

Waymo's attorney challenged him, noting that cheat codes also are popular elements in video games. "It's a code you can use, where you don't have to do that game, but can cheat to get to the next level.... It allows you to skip ahead and not do the work," Verhoeven said.


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