Waymo Sues Uber for Intellectual Property Theft

Waymo has filed a federal lawsuit in San Francisco claiming Uber and its self-driving truck company stole Waymo’s self-driving car technology.

That intellectual property theft of Alphabet’s Waymo unit by an Otto self-driving truck employee earned that company more than $500 million, the complaint alleges.

Uber acquired self-driving startup Otto last year for $680 million. Otto employees had committed “calculated theft” of Alphabet’s technology, the filing said.

Waymo claims in the suit that it took seven years to design and build the laser-scanning system guiding self-driving cars. Uber was able to tap into Otto’s process of getting it done in nine months, according to the suit.

Waymo was accidentally copied on an email from one of its vendors, which had an attachment showing an Uber Lidar circuit board that had a “striking resemblance” to Waymo’s design, according to the court filing.

The claims in the federal court case include unfair competition, patent infringement, and trade secret misappropriation.

“Fair competition spurs new technical innovation, but what has happened here is not fair competition. Instead, Otto and Uber have taken Waymo’s intellectual property so that they could avoid incurring the risk, time, and expense of independently developing their own technology,” Waymo said in the complaint.

“We take the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and we will review this matter carefully,”’ Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler said in an email.

SEE ALSO:  Uber Moves Self-Driving Cars From California To Arizona Via Self-Driving Trucks

Tensions continue to increase between Alphabet/Google and Uber. Google Ventures had invested significantly in the company, which ended abruptly last year; and Silicon Valley talent, especially skilled engineers, had been competed for heavily.

Uber is already facing a few fights of its own. The ride-hailing company has been mired in allegations of sexual harassment by a female developer who had worked with the company. The company this week set up a commission led by former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder to investigate the former developer’s allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination by her manager.

Weeks earlier, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down from President Donald Trump’s business advisory council after customers deluged the company with social media attacks, citing his affiliation with Trump.

The Detroit News

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Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Is The Strongest in Panamera Line

Porsche is now positioning the new Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid as the flagship in the Panamera line for its power delivery.

The German automaker sees the all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid sports car hitting impressive performance numbers for power and torque. The Volkswagen division says it also emphasizes the “high importance of electromobility to Porsche.”

The world premier will be at the Geneva Motor Show next month. It will be launched in the European market in July 2017.

The Turbo S E-Hybrid can deliver 500 kW/680 horsepower of system power and 627 pounds-feet of torque. It goes from 0 to 100 km/m (62 mph) in 3.4 seconds, and can hit a top speed of 310 km/h (192 mph). The power comes from an electric motor (producing 100 kW/136 horsepower) coupled with a four-liter V8 engine (404 kW/550 horsepower).

It can go up to 50 kilometers (31 miles) on battery only; but that comes from European NEDC standards and would be less in the U.S.

Hitting that power performance mark comes from transferring over some of the technology from the 918 Spyder.

It follows the AWD Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid that had been launched right ahead of the 2016 Paris Motor Show. That plug-in hybrid with its V6 engine combined with an electric motor has total system output of 462 horsepower. It can travel up to up to 50 km (31 miles) in all-electric mode under NEDC standards, with a maximum speed of 140 km/h (87 mph).

Both Panamara models feature a decoupler installed in the hybrid module activated by an electric clutch actuator (ECA), bringing short response times and a high level of comfort while driving it. As is the case in all other second-generation Panamera models, it uses the fast-shifting Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK); that system uses eight gears to transmit power to the standard adaptive AWD system Porsche Traction Management (PTM).

SEE ALSO:  AWD Porsche Panamera Hybrid Variant with 462 HP Joins Lineup

The electric motor gets its power from a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery with an energy capacity of 14.1 kWh. Within six hours, the high-voltage battery integrated in the rear is fully charged via a 230V connection. Those who buy the optional 7.2 kW onboard charger and a 230-volt connection, instead of the standard 3.6 kW charger, will get their battery fully charged in just 2.4 hours.

Owners can plan their charging using a timer supplied by the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) connectivity feature, or through the Porsche Connect app (for smartphones and Apple Watch).

Those buying the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid can pay more the Executive version, where the wheelbase is extended by 150 millimeters (5.9 inches).

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Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck Test Run Starting Up in Germany

Mercedes-Benz will bring the all-electric Urban eTruck to users through a trial run in Europe beginning this year.

The German automaker has been in talks with about 20 potential customers about participating in a test project at first in Germany and later throughout Europe.

The 124-mile range Urban eTruck is part of the company’s vision to supply urban fleets with electric trucks ideal for short-range commercial deliveries. Mercedes-Benz had earlier committed to bringing about 150 of these trucks, including light-duty Fuso eCanter electric trucks, to customers in Europe, Japan, and the U.S.

These Urban eTrucks have been designed to tap into electric drive power and torque to navigate through cities with heavy loads. The large 212 kWh battery pack powers two high-speed asynchronous three-phase electric motors that can deliver up to 339 horsepower and 737 pounds-feet of torque.

Users can choose between 18- and 25-ton models with various application options including a refrigerated body, a dry box body, and as a platform vehicle. These fleets will get chargers made for these trucks during the 12-month test cycle. A Mercedes-Benz road testing department can provide support services.

The automaker said it will be setting up user profiles with data collected on areas of application and usage. Knowledge will be gained from the test and user expectations for the applications will be compared.

SEE ALSO:  Mercedes-Benz Shows Off All-Electric Urban eTruck With 124-Mile Range

Mercedes-Benz Trucks sees the demand in global markets for these trucks coming from pressure that companies face on supporting better air quality, a lower noise level, and mobility restrictions in crowded cities. The interest is there, the company says.

“Following the world premiere in September 2016 at the International Commercial Vehicle Show the customer reaction was outstanding. We are currently talking to around 20 potential customers from the disposal, foodstuffs and logistics sector. With the small series we are now rapidly taking the next step towards a series product. By 2020 we want to be on the market with the series generation,” said Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks.

The company expects costs to continue coming down for lithium ion batteries, analyzing the trend during the timeframe of 1997 to 2025. Costs will be going down from 500 euros ($528) per kWh to 200 euros/kWh ($211) during that period. Energy density will be improving in a similar scale – from 80 Wh/kg (36.28 Wh/pounds) to 200 Wh/kg (90.71 Wh/pounds).



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Mercedes EQ Power Launches New EV & Hybrid Range

Mercedes is launching the EQ Power sub-brand with the revised S-Class this summer, the company announced today.

All subsequent hybrid and EV models will gain the designation, which was first revealed at the 2016 Paris Motor Show.

High-performance models developed in conjunction with subsidiary AMG are getting a positive charge at the end, EQ Power+, in keeping with the 2017 Formula 1 competitor W08 EQ Power+.

Lewis Hamilton and new team member Valterri Bottas will be looking to add another championship win to the marque.

The expertise developed in Formula 1 is being carried over to a planned 1000-plud horsepower supercar. Limited to 300 units, the “Project One” will most likely get an EQ Power+ moniker when revealed in 2018.

The first model unique to the EQ Power name will be the production version of the EQ Concept also unveiled in Paris last year — a mid-sized electric crossover with a targeted range of over 300 miles. Scheduled to arrive by 2019, it will be the first of ten planned all-electric vehicles in the line-up to be introduced by 2025.

The current Mercedes lineup in the U.S. includes the B250e BEV and the C350e, GLE550e and S550e PHEVs.

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2018 BMW i3 preview (including battery rumors)

Section of 2018 BMW i3 spy shot  [image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien, as used on Motor Authority]This year’s updated BMW i3 electric car is only just arriving at U.S. dealerships after a battery-capacity boost that gives it longer range. But already some details of the 2018 BMW i3 have leaked out, in the form of spy photos and further rumors about more battery capacity yet. Unlike our usual previews based on manufacturer releases, then…

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Consumer Watchdogs To Trump: Don’t Cut US Fuel Economy Standards

After every automaker doing business in the U.S. signed off on two letters asking President Donald Trump to reconsider national MPG standards, consumer advocacy groups have asked him to keep the rules in place.

The groups, Consumers Union which publishes Consumer Reports, and the Consumer Federation of America, said in their joint letter that cheaper fuel costs promised by tough Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards benefit Americans.

SEE ALSO: Automakers Distressed Over EPA’s Fuel Economy Announcement

To date, there is no official indication President Trump will re-open review of the fuel economy and emission standards through 2025, but things could be headed that way.

The day after Trump was inaugurated, the Auto Alliance representing 77 percent of U.S. automakers asked him to reconsider rules for 2022-2025 and that has since been added to by the global automakers. In all, these groups represent 13 automakers who are asking Trump to review rules set under the Obama administration.

The automakers’ letters were a response in turn to a move performed at the end of Obama’s presidency to either lock in or make the EPA rules difficult to modify.

SEE ALSO: EPA Finalizes 2025 Fuel Economy Rules Before Trump Enters Office

In the case of politics as usual, the EPA under Obama rushed a final determination for 2022-2025 rules early this year ahead of an April 2018 deadline. The action was decried by automakers who say the rules are too tough, and will cost as many as 1 million jobs, with resultant losses to the U.S. economy.

With their letter this week, Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America – who represent consumer interests – now beg to differ.

SEE ALSO: Automakers to New EPA Chief: Drop Obama’s CO2 Rules

“If standards are rolled back, the biggest losers will be hardworking Americans, many of whom put Trump into office” said CFA Director of Public Affairs Jack Gillis in a phone interview today. “The biggest winners will be foreign oil which we’ve done a pretty good job of reducing dependence on because of these standards.”

The CU/CFA letter also bypasses any talk of greenhouse gas, as Trump is not a believer in man-made climate change. It instead speaks to interests he was elected to champion.

This shift in rhetoric to suit the change in political winds has been seen already, such as by Tesla, which recently posted a video touting “energy security” and avoiding talk of climate change although this is very much also an interest for parties involved.

At this stage, Gillis said his organization and Consumers Union are proactively preparing, and want a “seat at the table” should Trump attempt to reopen the review of CAFE standards.

The CFA backs its assertion that CAFE standards “can save consumers thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle in reduced gas costs, even at today’s lower prices” with data from “numerous” cost-benefit analyses.

“It is clear to us that the car companies are working very hard to reopen the discussion and obviously their intent is not to beef it up, but to roll it back,” Gillis said.

SEE ALSO: CAFE’s Midterm Evaluation For 2022-2025 Could Electrify Automakers One Way Or The Other

Ironically, the 13 automakers doing business in North America had previously signed off on the rules they may now wish to contest, he said. And, they agreed to it when “they weren’t doing so well and now they are doing smashing” he said of solid profits and sales record in recent years.

Ironic also is the carmakers have demonstrated they can profit despite being well on their way to ramping up mpg and curtailing fleet average CO2.

“When we look at their performance over the years, its clear the automakers are well on their way to meeting an estimated 40 mpg by 2025 – keep in mind that’s 8 years away.”

Publications more often publish the EPA’s standard of “54.5” mpg or a few mpg less to satisfy CAFE, but on window stickers that consumers will see, the rules equate to high 30s, or low 40s by 2025 compared to mid 20s today.

Following is the open letter in its entirety.

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America, we ask that you maintain the strong fuel economy standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency. These standards help to lower fuel costs for middle class families across the country, support job creation and innovation, and improve air quality.

Rolling back fuel economy standards would hurt hard-working, middle-class Americans and small businesses that rely on a car or truck for their livelihood. Even at today’s lower prices, gasoline is a major expense for a majority of American families. Fuel economy standards are a cost-effective way to save consumers money on fuel. In fact, Consumers Union’s research shows that consumers would enjoy net savings of $3,200 per car and $4,800 per truck, over the life of a vehicle that meet the 2025 standards, even at today’s low gas prices. If gas prices rise, which we expect they will, the savings would be significantly higher. And when consumers save money, they spend it on local goods and services, helping to further boost the economy and encourage more job growth.

Rolling back the standards will rob consumers of these savings, providing them with less expendable income. For families struggling to cover basic needs, this would be an added burden. Improving fuel efficiency in cars and trucks not only saves money today, but help provide families with a bit of insurance against future gas price increases. In fact, strong majorities of consumers across the political spectrum value fuel economy standards—our recent surveys and polls show that about 80% of Americans support the standards.

Thanks to fuel economy standards, the automakers have invested in innovative technologies to improve fuel economy, and their efforts have paid off. Automakers have not only met today’s fuel economy standards, but they have exceeded the standards in many cases, all while enjoying record profits and record sales. Many cars and trucks available today outperform standards set for 2020 and 2021. And one of the great features of the fuel economy standards is that they are flexible and adapt to the vehicles consumers actually buy–as consumer demand has shifted toward larger vehicles, automakers’ targets have also lowered because larger vehicles have lower efficiency targets. The standards help improve consumer choices across the entire fleet regardless of the size of vehicles consumers choose to buy. Finally, the standards will go a long way to keeping the car companies from again needing a bailout as they did when their lots were filled with unsold inefficient vehicles the last time gas prices peaked.

Consumers are relying on fuel economy standards to lower their fuel costs in the future. Staying the course on fuel economy supports working families and increases American jobs, which are top priorities for our nation.


Shannon Baker-Branstetter

Consumers Union

Jack Gillis

Consumer Federation of America

Cc: Administrator G. Scott Pruitt, EPA

Secretary Elaine Chao, DOT

Kevin Green, DOT

Bill Charmley, EPA

Chris Grundler, EPA

Michael Olechiw EPA

Rebecca Yoon, NHTSA

James Tamm, NHTSA

Mike McCarthy, CARB

Annette Hebert, CARB

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