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Levandowski Steps Away from Uber’s Autonomous Program

Company moves new executive into the role.

by on Apr.28, 2017

Waymo continues testing its autonomous vehicles as it wages a court battle over the technology with Uber.

The man at the heart of autonomous vehicle company Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber, Anthony Levandowski, is going to give up some of his duties until the suit is settled.

Levandowski is a former Waymo employee who that company alleges took more than 14,000 documents with him when he left to form his own company, which he sold to Uber. The company now forms the bulk of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group.

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However, Waymo, which was formerly part of Google before it was spun off into its own unit, officials allege the documents contain information about its Lidar system and further they alledge Uber appears to be replicating it.

The move to step away was chronicled in an email from Levandowski to his employees that was revealed by Business Insider. He plans to continue working in other areas of the company, such as software and operations. Eric Meyhofer is taking over Levandowski’s role and will report directly to CEO Travis Kalanick.

(Uber refutes Google’s stolen intellectual property charges. Click Here for the story.)

Levandowski didn’t elaborate on why he was relinquishing those tasks; however, the move comes not long after U.S. District Judge William Alsup told Uber that the evidence in the case could lead to an injunction barring Levandowski from working on Uber’s self-driving car project, according to Reuters.

Waymo wants a court order forcing Uber to cut its work on autonomous vehicles because the project uses information taken by Levandowski before he left then-Google.

In new court filings last week, Waymo claimed that Uber has been developing a secret, secondary self-driving technology that copies digit-for-digit Waymo’s autonomous driving designs.

(Click Here for more about the lawsuit.)

In addition, the new complaint from Waymo also claims Uber intentionally concealed this project from the U.S. District Court judge assigned to the case after the Google subsidiary filed its original suit back in February.

“Uber has taken, copied, and used Waymo’s technology. This, along with Uber’s subsequent cover up and violations of this court’s orders, show the need for an injunction in this case,” read Waymo documents filed today in support of its request for an injunction against Uber. The injunction would temporarily halt Uber’s self-driving car program.

(To see more about Waymo rolling out its autonomous testing program, Click Here.)

Uber has denied all of the charges and warned in its own court filings that stopping its autonomous vehicle project could undermine its future prospects.

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