Mercedes is also jumping into the race to finish the driverless car and get into the seemingly very profitable future market. “That’s a big part of the reason the market for partly and fully self-driving vehicles could be worth $42 billion in just seven years and $77 billion by 2035, according to Boston Consulting Group” (Davies, 2017 April 04). This very profitable market has attracted multiple different companies into the race. “If you’re betting on Silicon Valley stars like Google, Tesla, and Uber to free you from your horrorshow commute with autonomous driving technology, don’t. That’s the key takeaway from a new report that finds Ford—yes, the Detroit-based, 113-year-old giant—is winning the race to build the self-driving car, with General Motors running a close second. Renault-Nissan, Daimler, and Volkswagen round out the top five. Meanwhile, Waymo—aka Google’s driverless car effort—sits in sixth place, with Tesla in twelfth. Uber languishes in sixteenth, behind Honda and barely ahead of startup Nutonomy and China’s Baidu” (Davies, 2017 April 03). Although these tech companies are ahead in the technology aspect, the strategies developed by Ford and GM in the actual automotive industry give them a cutting edge advantage over some of their key competitors.
Having these different factors of manufacturing and go-to-market strategy being taken into consideration, it may not be too far off for Daimler to make claims which seem farfetched currently. This company seems to be on more of the cutting edge when it comes to cars and getting these cars out on the roads as soon as possible seems very advantageous to these new developers. This current climate and race seems similar to the race to the moon, but now is being displayed in the private sector instead of politics. However, we can expect to see self-driving cars becoming a more prevalent reality within the near future.
Currently Uber is in a tight spot with many ongoing allegations against the company. “Now, on top of political criticisms of CEO Travis Kalanick and accusations of a sexist corporate culture, the company must worry about a legal dispute that could cost it a truckload of money, kill its self-driving research, and even land more than one executive in prison” (Marshall, 2017).
The current allegation laid against Uber is of an employee stealing information from Google and utilizing it for Uber’s development. “The lawsuit, which Waymo filed Thursday, alleges former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski secretly downloaded 14,000 files proprietary technical files before leaving to found self-driving truck startup Otto. Uber acquired Otto last summer and put Levandowski in charge of its self-driving efforts” (Marshall, 2017). The lawsuit is based on the fact that information was stolen from Google and is being used illegally by Uber to gain an edge against Google’s own self-driving effort called Waymo.
The precedent for this accusation Google is making towards Uber is found under the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016. “This important new legislation creates a federal, private, civil cause of action for trade-secret misappropriation in which ‘[a]n owner of a trade secret that is misappropriated may bring a civil action… if the trade secret is related to a product or service used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce’” (Cohen, n.d.). The trade secret Google claims were research done for Waymo and used for research on one of Uber’s latest acquisitions, Otto.
Uber’s earliest response does not find the claims to be substantial and thinks the lawsuit will not come to action. “An Uber spokesperson calls Waymo’s lawsuit a ‘baseless attempt to slow down a competitor’” (Marshall, 2017). As this case has just been filed, more information will be needed to understand what the future implications are.
“The Seattle City Council has approved a law allowing the drivers of on-demand ride companies like Lyft and Uber to unionize” (Golson, 2006). “It allows for drivers for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft to unionize and collectively bargain for better working conditions, earnings, and other benefits” (Hawkins). These unions will provide much needed advantages to currently underprivileged drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft. This current need for better working conditions for drivers of companies like Uber is recognized by Uber as well. “The company recently named 2017 ‘the year of the driver’ and has said it will devote energy and resources to improving its relationship with the hundreds of thousands of people who drive on its platform” (Hawkins). The company recognizes implicitly the working conditions and compensations for the driver are not currently being met for the drivers’ needs and desires.
The company has recently received some poor press and reputation. “But the company’s bungled response to a taxi strike during the recent JFK protests led to a grassroots #DeleteUber campaign that saw 200,000 riders canceling their accounts” (Hawkins). Uber has not always maintained the best view within the eyes of the public and is currently looking to develop a stronger reputation among the applications users.
Uber’s main legal argument describes the authorities of Seattle of being incosistent with the labor laws of the city. “Shortly thereafter, Uber filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s rulemaking authority, calling it ‘arbitrary and capricious’ and inconsistent with ‘fundamental labor laws,’ according to court document” (Hawkins). Uber claims these laws do not have purpose and display a brash decision-making process on behalf of the city of Seattle.