Uber Technologies Inc. is in talks with Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL) Waymo about including the former's autonomous cars in the ride-hailing company's network now that a legal dispute between the two has been settled.
On stage at the Code Conference in Southern California, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the firm's relationship with Waymo was “getting better” after it agreed to pay its rival $245 million in shares for stealing trade secrets.
“We’re having discussions with Waymo. If something happens, great. If not, we can live with that, too,” said Khosrowshahi. Uber’s CEO added that Alphabet’s autonomous driving unit is an “incredible technology provider” that has the ability to boost Uber’s ride-hailing app if the two parties come to an agreement.
Striking a deal that would enable Uber customers to hail rides from Waymo's autonomous cars makes sense for both parties, Khosrowshahi said, as Waymo will struggle to lead the self-driving sector without access to a network of smartphone users that Uber can provide.
Khosrowshahi’s comments came shortly after he pledged to get Uber’s self-driving car venture back up and running. The company was forced to shut down its operation earlier this month after one of its SUV vehicles killed a pedestrian in Arizona.
Uber’s CEO outlined plans to “get back on the road over the summer,” adding that the fatal crash “is going to make us a better company.”
Waymo, which declined to comment on speculation of a potential deal with Uber, has been pushing ahead with plans to develop its own fleet of self-driving cars. The company is set to launch an app-based service this year that offers rides in a Waymo car with no driver.
Relations between Waymo and Uber turned sour after Waymo alleged that one of its former engineers brought thousands of confidential documents with him when he was appointed chief of Uber’s self-driving car project. Waymo sued Uber for $1.8 billion. (See also: Waymo Sues Uber for Theft of Self-Driving Tech.)
Earlier this year, the two companies eventually reached a settlement that saw Waymo awarded with 0.34 percent of Uber's equity, worth about $245 million. Under the terms of the settlement, Uber is not permitted to incorporate Waymo's confidential information into its hardware and software.