Uber fires autonomous vehicle researcher involved in lawsuit

Uber fires autonomous vehicle researcher involved in lawsuit

According to the suit, a former Waymo engineer named Anthony Levandowski allegedly misappropriated hundreds of gigabytes of proprietary technical information about Waymo's self-driving efforts and handed it over to Uber.

Waymo has alleged that Anthony Levandowski downloaded 14,000 documents containing trade secrets before he founded a startup that was purchased by Uber.

Levandowski was sacked "for cause", according to a copy of the termination letter obtained by the Washington Post, and he has 20 days to contest the decision if he so chooses.

The New York Times reported Levandowski's exit earlier on Tuesday, citing an internal email sent to employees. His lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He is the focus of a lawsuit against Uber by Alphabet as the Silicon Valley giants battle over technology that is expected to revolutionize the way people use cars. "Footnote 9 of the Order specifically states that 'in complying with this order, Uber has no excuse under the Fifth Amendment to pull any punches as to Levandowski'". That Uber has dismissed the key person in a program they've argued has to happen, despite skepticism about the future of self-driving cars in general, will likely damage a company already staring down a host of problems.

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Levandowski, who was not a defendant in the lawsuit against Uber, has declined to answer most questions and asserted his Fifth Amendment rights.

San Francisco-based Uber said it pressed Levandowski for months to help with the investigation, and did not want to wait until the matter made its way through the courts to decide whether to let him go.

Earlier this year, Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving vehicle subsidiary, launched a surprise and somewhat sensational lawsuit against Uber. Alsup ordered Uber to ensure its work on lidar remains off limits to Levandowski.

Uber in a letter to Levandowski filed in court on Tuesday said it was firing him for cause, since he had not complied with a court order to hand over documents.

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