Feb 6, 2018

Ex-Uber CEO: Google was ahead in self-driving cars

Kalanick delivers a speech at the Third Netease Future Technology Conference on June 28, 2016 in Beijing. Photo: Wang K'aichicn / VCG / VCG via Getty Images

Ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick admitted in testimony in the Waymo-Uber trial Tuesday that he saw Google (later Waymo) as the leader in self-driving cars, and that his company needed to catch up as a matter of its future existence.

Why it matters: Waymo, which is suing Uber for allegedly stealing some of its trade secrets, is continuing with its narrative that the ride-hailing company and its chief were on a mission to get ahead in the race at all costs. Eventually, according to Waymo, that included cheating, in the form of acquiring a former Waymo executive's new startup and using tech he had brought with him.

More from Kalanick:

  • He admitted to growing unhappy with Uber's initial self-driving car division's progress (its sensors were too big and expensive). "We definitely needed to get a commercial orientation,” he said.
  • Uber's eventual acquisition of Otto, founded by former Waymo exec Anthony Levandowski, was a sort of compromise. "I wanted to hire Anthony and he wanted to start a company, so I wanted to come up with a situation where he could feel like he started a company, and I could feel like I hired him,” he said on Tuesday.

What's next: Kalanick will continue his testimony Wednesday morning.

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Judge rules against Trump policy limiting public comment on energy leasing

Photo: Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday overturned a 2018 Trump administration directive that sought to speed up energy leases on public land by limiting the amount of time the public could comment.

Why it matters: U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush's decision voids almost a million acres of leases in the West, according to The Washington Post. It's a victory for environmentalists, who tried to block the change as part of an effort to protect the habitat of the at-risk greater sage grouse.

  • The ruling invalidated five oil and gas leases in Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, and affected 104,688 square miles of greater sage-grouse habitat, per The Associated Press.
  • Leases in greater sage-grouse habitat will return to allowing 30 days of public comment and administrative protest.

The big picture: From Axios' Amy Harder, this is the latest in a long and convoluted list of regulatory rollbacks the Trump administration is pursuing on environmental rules that courts are, more often than not, rebutting. With Congress gridlocked on these matters, expect the courts to be the default way Trump's agenda faces checks (unless, of course, a Democrat wins the White House this November).

Your best defense against coronavirus

Photo: Adrian Greeman/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

Washing your hands is the best way to protect against the novel coronavirus, according to doctors and health officials, as the virus continues to spread around the globe.

Why it matters: Frequent hand washing can stop germs from spreading in a community, a known preventative for COVID-19 and influenza.

Major League Soccer embarks on its 25th season

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As Major League Soccer begins its 25th season, the league is financially stable and surging in popularity, and its 26 teams have gorgeous facilities and rapidly increasing valuations.

  • It also continues to expand, with David Beckham's Inter Miami and Nashville SC set to debut this season as the 25th and 26th teams. Plans are in place to reach 30 franchises by 2022 — triple the number from 2004.
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