Uber has fired the former head of its autonomous vehicle division and the man at the heart of its legal battle with Google‘s self-driving car outfit Waymo. Anthony Levandowski came to Uber through its acquisition of Otto, a driverless truck company Levandowski founded after leaving Google.
In its complaint against Uber, Google said Levandowski stole some 14,000 documents detailing aspects of the sensors it uses within its own autonomous vehicle technology. Levandowski, who is not a defendant in the lawsuit, pled the Fifth Amendment and answered almost no questions when he was deposed. But earlier this month, Uber told Levandowski to cooperate and hand over documents related to the case or risk termination. Apparently, he has exceeded his opportunity to comply with that request. Eric Meyhofer, appointed to lead Uber’s Advanced Technology Group in late April, will now fully take over as lead engineer in Uber’s self-driving efforts.
The firing, announced in an email sent to employees, was first reported by the New York Times and confirmed by Fast Company. Uber, which continues to deny accusations that it stole Google’s technology, is no doubt eager to get this case wrapped up.