Original post from Automotive News by Katie Burke contact below. SAN FRANCISCO — Uber has fired Anthony Levandowski, the self-driving car engineer at the center of its legal battle with Waymo.
In an email to employees sent Tuesday and first reported by The New York Times, Angela Padilla, Uber’s associate general counsel for employment and litigation, wrote that Levandowski’s inability to cooperate with the legal team to defend the company against Waymo’s lawsuit led to his termination. An Uber spokesperson confirmed the email.
Waymo, the autonomous vehicle company spun out from Google, said it was suing Uber in February over lidar designs it claimed were stolen from the company. Though he isn’t named as a defendant in the suit, Levandowski was alleged to have taken the designs when he left Google’s self-driving car project in January 2016. The federal judge hearing Waymo’s case asked Levandowski to hand over evidence and testify. However, he has asserted his Fifth Amendment rights for concern of potential criminal charges.
In the internal email reported by The Times, Padilla wrote that Uber had “urged Anthony to fully cooperate in helping the court get to the facts and ultimately helping to prove our case.”
Eric Meyhofer, who leads Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group and took over Levandowski’s lidar-related responsibilities in the midst of the Waymo lawsuit, will lead the autonomous vehicle team, an Uber spokesperson said.
Uber added that it had pressed Levandowski to turn over relevant documents to the case and he missed deadlines set by the company.