Just Trust Google: California Court Rules Waymo Can Keep Autonomous Vehicle Emergency Protocols Secret
A California court has ruled in favor of Google’s self-driving car company Waymo allowing the company to keep its autonomous vehicle emergency protocols secret.
Engadget reports that the California Superior Court in Sacramento has ruled in favor of Google’s self-driving car company Waymo, allowing it to keep details about its self-driving cars a secret. Waymo sued the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in January to prevent the agency from disclosing possible trade secrets that might give other autonomous vehicle makers an advantage over Waymo. The company is now allowed to keep the details of how its autonomous vehicles will handle emergencies secret.
In this April 7, 2021 file photo, a Waymo minivan moves along a city street as an empty driver’s seat and a moving steering wheel drive passengers during an autonomous vehicle ride in Chandler, Ariz. The U.S. government’s highway safety agency has ordered automakers to report any crashes involving fully autonomous vehicles or partially automated driver assist systems. The move Tuesday, June 29, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates the agency is taking a tougher stance on automated vehicle safety than in the past. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
The DMV offered Waymo the opportunity to redact information that might be considered a trade secret from its driverless deployment application before submitting it to the DMV. A third party then challenged the redacted sections and the DMV advised Waymo to seek an injunction if it wants to prevent the redacted materials from being disclosed.
Waymo is reportedly attempting to keep the details of how its cars handle emergencies secret. This includes details on how the cars analyze collisions involving vehicles and how the cars decide when to hand over control to human drivers. The application also included details on Waymo vehicles’ ability to handle one-way streets and hills in San Francisco.
Waymo claimed in a lawsuit that allowing the release of these supposed trade secrets will have a “chilling effect across the industry” and may influence other firms from investing time into autonomous vehicle technology development.
A Waymo spokesperson commented on the ruling to TechCrunch stating:
We’re pleased that the court reached the right decision in granting Waymo’s request for a preliminary injunction, precluding the disclosure of competitively-sensitive trade secrets that Waymo had included in the permit application it submitted to the CA DMV. We will continue to openly share safety and other data on our autonomous driving technology and operations, while recognizing that detailed technical information we share with regulators is not always appropriate for sharing with the public.
Read more at Engadget here.