Waymo, a self-driving car unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet sues Uber and Otto for stealing their key technology.

Waymo became a stand-alone unit of Alphabet last December. Last year, several of its high level engineers left the job and started their own car companies or joined competitors. But, on Thursday, Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber and its self-driving unit Otto, in the Federal court of San Francisco. In their lawsuit, Waymo claims that Uber has stolen patent and crucial trade secrets about Waymo's Lidar sensor technology.

Waymo is seeking an unspecified amount as compensation for the damages caused to them and also a court order that prevents Uber from using Waymo’s proprietary information.

Anthony Levandowski – the brain behind Otto

It was last May when Otto was launched and one of its co-founders was Anthony Levandowski, a former executive at Google. He was one of the members of the self-driving project of Google.

In August, Uber acquired Otto for an amount of $680 million. The decision to sue Uber was made because it was discovered that before resigning from his job at Google, Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files that included designs of the Lidar circuit board. Then, Levandowski connected an external hard drive to copy these files. As per the lawsuit filed by Google, the Lidar circuit board is the main component of the autonomous driving system.

Waymo also accused Levandowski of formatting his laptop to prevent finding forensic fingerprint evidence.

Uber has no answers to Google’s allegations

Uber, on the other hand, is making plans to replace human drivers with robotic driver as they consider it as a cost saving option. The team from Uber did not have any specific responses to Google’s allegations.

In a statement issued by Uber, they said that they take these allegations and the decision to sue Uber seriously and are reviewing the matter with their top officials. The relationship between Google and Uber turned sour in 2013.

A huge amount totaling billions of dollars have been invested in automated driving research in the last two years and many technology companies are fighting it out to get an upper hand.

Waymo sues Uber despite loss of many engineers

Google has had to face setbacks as many of the engineers who were working in the car division left their jobs. Word is they were worried about the slow progress and were not sure how the CEO of Google's Self-Driving Car Project, John Krafcick, will handle the division. But, having its designs and trade secrets stolen, Waymo sues Uber in hopes of making some headway, at least in the courts.