USD was created by Pixar and has quickly become the standard to interchange 3D Data between DCC, but is so much more than just another interchange format. It also allows to create complex 3D Scenes, called Stages.
Stage can be composed of numerous Layer, which can be file on the disk (.usda, .usd, etc...) or even created in memory. For example, the modelling department can have one layer per character, the layout department could take those layers and place them in the scene, then the lightning department could take the result, add lights and even override (ie non destructively edit) the position of the characters.
Every step can be done non destructively, so updates from the modelling department are easily transferred to the lightning department and without the need to convert the 3D Data in another format.
In Autograph, we natively use USD from creating, linking and rendering 3D Scenes. As USD is a very complex framework, we designed our 3D workflow to hide much of the difficulty while keeping the many possibilities that USD has to offer!