Brief: Uber fires engineer accused of stealing self-driving tech from Google
- Uber fired Anthony Lewandowski, head of the company’s self-driving car project. The firing was reported yesterday by The New York Times.
- Lewandowski was co-founder of self-driving truck tech company Otto, which has become the centerpiece of a legal battle between Uber and Waymo, Alphabet (Google)’s autonomous vehicle company.
- Lewandowski refused to offer testimony and present evidence asked by the court (exercising his Fifth Amendment rights under US law). Uber had urged him to comply, threatening him with termination if he did not.
Why it matters:
- The firing doesn’t change the fact that the lawsuit is going forward in court and could even result in a criminal investigation against Uber.
- Waymo has also started arbitration proceedings against Lewandowski himself, who is not personally part of the ongoing lawsuit. It also got a partial injunction to stop Uber’s self-driving R&D efforts but details have not been revealed.
- Lewandowski’s termination comes at a time when a growing number of prominent names have left Uber, including Jeff Jones and Rachel Whetstone.
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