Uber has fired Anthony Levandowski, the head of its autonomous car division. Levandowski stands accused of stealing technical secrets from Google’s own self-driving car project to start his own company; and has also dragged Uber into the lawsuit.
Levandowski once worked as part of the autonomous vehicle group at Google, which was later spun off as Waymo when the restructuring under Alphabet happened. He later left to start Otto, a company working on creating self-driving trucks; which was later bought over by Uber for its technology.
Uber had originally stood by Levandowski during the lawsuit, but his later actions forced the company to take action. The former head engineer pleaded his right to avoid self incrimination when asked to turn over documents pertaining to the case. All but confirming that he at least has something to hide from the courts.
The ride-sharing company had presented Levandowski an ultimatum to force him to comply with the court order, but eventually let him go after the deadline for compliance passed.
Getting rid of the problem will not end the lawsuit facing Uber. Waymo is also maintaining that the company had knowledge of Levandowski’s actions before acquiring Waymo, but chose to turn a blind eye to the matter.
The New York Times also points out that firing Levandowski also allows him to cut a deal and testify against his former employers. Something he might be tempted to do if the charges of industrial theft becomes a criminal proceeding.
[Source: The New York Times]