Uber fires top self-driving engineer following lawsuit with Waymo

Uber logo with man

Uber has fired Anthony Levandowski, chief engineer behind the company’s self-driving vehicle unit. According to The New York Times, the news was revealed in an internal e-mail sent to employees.

Levandowski’s termination follows a legal dispute Uber and self-driving car company Waymo, which now operates under Google parent company Alphabet. In February, Levandowski was accused of stealing 14,000 files from Waymo, which pertained to schematics of a circuit board and information about radar and laser navigational tool Lidar.

Previously, on January 15th, 2016, Levandowski had left Waymo to form Ottomotto, a self-driving vehicle startup, which was later acquired by Uber in August for $680 million USD. Waymo says this stolen technology was subsequently used in Uber’s vehicles.

Earlier this month, San Francisco judge William Alsup said that Waymo had shown “compelling evidence” that Levandowski took the many files with him when he left the company. “The bottom line is the evidence indicates that Uber hired Levandowski even though it knew or should have known that he possessed over 14,000 confidential Waymo files,” Alsup in his ruling. “At least some information from those files, if not the files themselves, has seeped into Uber’s own Lidar development efforts.”

As a result, Uber has been prohibited from using Lidar technology in its self-driving cars. Levandowski, meanwhile, has asserted his Fifth Amendment rights to not say anything that might incriminate him.

Uber says in the e-mail sent to employees that it has “urged Anthony to fully cooperate in helping the court get to the facts and ultimately helping to prove our case,” but that he has not co-operated in doing so.

Source: The New York Times