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Why is a driving technology company reluctant to share data?

Waymo is a well-known autonomous driving technology company that started in 2009 as the Google Self-Driving Car Project. The company focuses on building what they refer to as the “Waymo Driver,” aka the World’s Most Experienced Driver, to improve mobility access while saving lives that would have been lost in traffic accidents.

The largest autonomous vehicle testing program nationwide involves Waymo as part of a six-company collective allowed to operate test vehicles on public roads. Of those companies, a couple are allowed to navigate fully self-driving cars and commercial vehicles without drivers at the wheel.

Full disclosure via legal action

Waymo aims to improve the safety and ease of people and things to get where they’re going. However, Waymo remains reluctant to share driverless crash data. To prove their resistance, the company filed a lawsuit in court. Their goal is to prevent public perusal of this information. Waymo cites the need for their data to be deemed a trade secret.

The legal action occurred after the California Department of Motor Vehicles received a public records request from an unidentified party wanting to see Waymo’s permit application allowing the operation of driverless cars on public roads. The DMV even allowed the company to redact some information. When an anonymous individual challenged redactions, the DMV advised Waymo to seek an injunction to prevent access.

Previously, Waymo willingly shared data, including 6.1 million miles of data from its test fleet from 2019 to 2020. The disclosure revealed 18 crashes and 29 near-misses. The company also simulated many real-world fatal accidents that occurred in Arizona over nearly a decade in an effort to show how they could have prevented them.

With the ongoing concern surrounding driverless vehicle travel, full disclosure can provide both clarity and peace of mind. However, one company remains determined to shield what they consider their secrets.