Waymo is the Google parent's self-driving car unit, and a property that TheStreet's Jim Cramer says is worth "probably 50% of the company."
How it Began
In December 2016, Alphabet's self-driving unit was renamed Waymo and spun off as a separate business, taking over for the self-driving car project that the company started in 2009. That effort was launched with the goal of developing technology that could transform mobility for millions of people. The original team contained the controversial former Uber executive, Anthony Levandowski (more on him later).
In 2016 an agreement was reached with Fiat Chrysler
that involves supplying a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans with Waymo's self-driving hardware and software. The company revealed in January that it was building all of its self-driving sensor hardware itself, giving it an advantage over its rival Uber.
In May of this year, Waymo announced a partnership with ride-hailing firm Lyft to "work together to bring autonomous vehicle technology into the mainstream through pilot projects and product development efforts."
And last month, Avis Budget Group (CAR) - Get Report and Waymo reached a deal that would allow Avis to manage Waymo's autonomous vehicle fleet.
Also last month, Waymo confirmed that it was exploring the potential of manufacturing a self-driving truck.
Uber vs. Waymo
The two companies are currently locked in a dispute with Anthony Levanadowski, an engineer at Google who later joined Uber. Waymo has accused Uber of stealing its technology connected to a sensor allowing autonomous vehicles to drive themselves.
Waymo's lawsuit alleges that Levandowski downloaded 9.7 gigabytes of information pertinent to its self-driving technology, and then transferred the files to another device.
After leaving Alphabet in January 2016, just after he allegedly downloaded the files, Levanadowski led the self-driving car company Otto, which Uber purchased in August 2016, placing Levandowski in charge of its self-driving efforts. In May, Waymo urged a judge to levy a ban on Uber's self-driving initiatives until the matter is resolved.
Uber has responded to the charge by calling it a "baseless attempt to slow down a competitor," but it eventually fired Levandowski in May amid the legal battle.
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