Waymo scored a small victory on Monday in its struggle to keep certain details about its autonomous vehicle operations from public view.
The Alphabet-owned company filed a lawsuit last week against the California Department of Motor Vehicles to keep some information from its autonomous vehicle deployment license, as well as emails between the company and the DMV, redacted from an order. public record, which was originally filed by an undisclosed third party. On Monday, a judge issued a temporary restraining order on Waymo, giving the company an additional 22 days to avoid releasing the redacted information.
There will be another hearing on February 22 to decide on the question of permanent injunction. The hearing will investigate the question of whether or not the information should continue to be written from the public record in perpetuity.
Every developer of autonomous vehicles, including Waymo, that tests and deploys in California must receive a series of licenses from the California DMV. To apply for one of the California licenses, companies need to submit information about their security and technology practices, information about which the DMV often asks follow-up questions.
After receiving the public record application for Waymo’s permission application, the DMV invited the company to censor sections that could reveal trade secrets. Waymo did this, going so far as to censor certain questions the DMV had for Waymo, and the DMV sent the package to the third party with large portions blocked. When the applicant contested the blackouts, the DMV told Waymo that it would have to release the information unless Waymo sought an injunction prohibiting the release of the material in an unedited form. According to Waymo, the DMV advised the company to also file a temporary restraining order against the DMV.
At Monday’s hearing, the DMV did not object to Waymo’s request for a temporary restraining order, according to the company. The DMV’s somewhat passive role in the matter signals that the agency is not interested in taking sides in the discussion and is going to court to decide.
Waymo wants to protect details about how its AVs identify and navigate certain conditions, how they determine the circumstances under which the AV will revert control to a human driver, when to support an AV fleet, and how the company handles incidents of disengagement. and collision incidents, according to the lawsuit the company filed in California Superior Court, Sacramento.
Not only does the company argue that disclosing the information will damage Waymo and hurt its investments in automated driving technology, it will have a “creepy effect on the entire industry.”
“Potential market participants interested in deploying autonomous vehicles in California will be deterred from investing valuable time and resources developing this technology if there is a proven track record of their trade secrets being disclosed,” the lawsuit reads.
That is, other companies may be frightened by the amount of information they want to share with the Detran in the future and, instead of having a transparent dialogue between the private sector and the agency, the sector may choose to strictly comply with regulations, instead of having a transparent dialogue between the private sector and the agency. than complying with the spirit of the regulation – this could, in turn, have an impact on the safety of the technology in general if the DMV does not have the fuller picture it needs to create and enforce autonomous vehicle regulations.
On the other hand, Matthew Wansley, former general counsel of nuTonomy (which Aptiv acquired) and professor of law at the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York, previously told Ploonge that he doubts all the information Waymo wanted to keep redacted. actually qualify as a trade secret, but noted that it was difficult to know without actually being able to see the edited information.