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Google and Uber each need to choose a good book for the judge presiding over their lawsuit, according to the “request for literature” filed in California federal court on Friday.
It’s a book recommendation, though, that comes with higher than normal stakes.
Each side gets to name one and only one “book, treatise, article or other reference publicly available” to educate the judge presiding over their legal case about a technology called Lidar and how it’s applied to self-driving cars – not your typical bedtime reading, but one that will have seriously influence the judgment of their case.
Last month, Waymo, the self-driving company owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, sued Uber, claiming that one of its employees stole vital Lidar technology shortly before starting his own self-driving company (which Uber later acquired). The trade secrets case is shaping up to be one of the most significant and closely-watched battles in Silicon Valley in years, pitting two of the world’s most powerful companies, and former partners, against each other.
That’s why Judge William Alsup wants to study up.
According to filing, the judge already knows a lot about lenses and focal lengths. “So, most useful would be literature on adapting LiDAR to self-driving vehicles, including various strategies for positioning light-emitting diodes behind the lens for best overall effect, as well as use of a single lens to project outgoing light as well as to focus on incoming reflections (other than, of course, the patents in suit),” the filing says.
Business Insider’s recommended reading list
Both companies will be giving Judge Alsup an in-person tutorial of the technology on April 12, so the book recommendations are due a week before to give plenty of time to read. Uber didn’t respond to request for comment, and Google declined to say what it was going to choose.
In the event Waymo or Uber are lacking in ideas, we decided to come up with a few handy suggestions that might be more entertaining than a single book on light-emitting diodes:
- For some relevant bedtime fiction, we recommend Stephen King’s “Christine,” a story about a bitter love triangle and a murderous, possessed car that could drive itself. To understand Travis Kalanick’s thinking, he’s a well-known fan of Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.” If it doesn’t become part of evidence for the case, Brad Stone’s “The Upstarts” tells the story of how Uber’s CEO was first wooed into letting Google invest by a self-driving car and when he realized his company could save money from the technology as a result. And if a book is too long for the judge, Business Insider has helpfully published a few explainers about how all of the technology works: “Here’s how Google’s self-driving cars see the world”; “Google reduced the cost of Lidar by 90%”; and the story about the man who invented the first self-driving motorcycle and is now at the center of the case.