Tesla's Autopilot Lawsuit Ends With a Ho-Hum Settlement
Tesla's lawsuit over the alleged theft of Autopilot trade secrets is coming to a quick end. The electric car maker has settled its lawsuit against Sterling Anderson, who was accused of violating his contract by making off with Tesla technology and forming a competing self-driving startup, Aurora Innovation, with the help of both former Tesla engineers and Google's Chris Urmson. The deal has Tesla withdraw its claims without asking for damages, court costs or any findings of guilt. In return, though, Anderson and Aurora are not only paying $100,000, but will face some very close scrutiny.
The terms of Anderson's contract will "remain in place" and also cover Aurora, Tesla says. Also, it'll establish a process that lets Tesla not only reclaim its Autopilot data, but conduct "ongoing audits" of Aurora's computers to make sure the company isn't holding on to the info behind Tesla's back.
When Tesla filed the suit in January, Aurora called it a "meritless" case that highlighted an "unhealthy fear of competition." However, the quick settlement isn't exactly supporting that position -- you'd expect Aurora to fight back if it was David to Tesla's Goliath. Whatever the truth, Aurora will have to walk a fine line while developing its autonomous tech.