Walt Disney once mused that it’s “kind of fun to do the impossible,” so it’s likely the animation mogul would’ve been impressed by last year’s reports that fully-autonomous vehicles could soon be shuttling passengers around the amusement park in Florida that bears his name. Driverless cars are, after all, one of the most challenging-impossible, perhaps-technological tasks of our time. But the Disney project has fallen into disarray, Jalopnik found, after the companies aiming to bring the idea to fruition ended up in court accusing one another of stealing blueprints for the crucial technology needed to make driverless cars work. And more than just an interesting look at how a new way to shuffle around the Magic Kingdom fell through, it’s an example of just how contentious this technology is right now. With billions of dollars at stake, tech companies and automakers have taken an aggressive, hyper-protective approach toward their plans for deploying self-driving cars to the public. The approach has routinely materialized in the form of explosive lawsuits carrying accusations of trade secrets theft. This year alone, Uber settled a series of trade secrets theft claims brought by Google’s self-driving car unit, Waymo, for $245 million; electric car startup Faraday Future sued a former exec for allegedly leaving his job with sensitive documents; and an Apple engineer wound up indicted by the feds after investigators found that he’d attempted to download a circuit board for a self-driving car to a personal laptop. There wasn’t, though, a whiff of concern surrounding… [Read full story]
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