Uber Fires Self-Driving Car Chief At Center Of Court Case


UBER Technologies Inc said on Tuesday it fired the former head of its self-driving unit, Anthony Levandowski, after he failed to comply with a court order to hand over documents at the center of a legal dispute between Uber and Alphabet Inc’s Waymo unit.

Levandowski’s former employer, Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving division, has accused him of stealing trade secrets and downloading more than 14,000 documents before he left. 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.

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.

He has declined to cooperate, citing his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. Levandowski’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Levandowski, whom Uber sidelined from some duties last month, has 20 days to comply with the court orders, according to the Uber letter.

Uber last month named Eric Meyhofer to replace Levandowski as head of its Advanced Technologies Group. Meyhofer will continue to lead the team, an Uber spokeswoman said via email.

The New York Times reported Levandowski’s exit earlier on Tuesday, citing an internal email sent to employees.

“Over the last few months Uber has provided significant evidence to the court to demonstrate that our self-driving technology has been built independently,” Angela Padilla, Uber’s associate general counsel for employment and litigation, wrote in an email to employees, cited by the Times.

An Uber spokeswoman confirmed its authenticity. “Over that same period, Uber has urged Anthony to fully cooperate in helping the court get to the facts and ultimately helping to prove our case,” Padilla wrote.