Anthony Levandowski, Uber’s vice president of technology, has been fired. According to an internal email obtained by the New York Times, Levandowski has been terminated "effective immediately" for his part in the ongoing legal feud between Uber and Waymo.
Google alleges that Levandowski, head of engineering for Uber’s autonomous vehicle division took approximately 14,000 documents relating to Google’s research on LiDAR and other self-driving technologies when he left the firm in January 2016.
Uber has stood behind Anthony up until now, insisting all research into the auto-navigating systems has been its own. However, when the court recently called Levandowski to testify and produce evidence, he chose to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights at the advice of council. Uber urged him to defend himself and thereby the company, but he refused, forcing Uber to distance itself from any possible criminal actions involved with the VP and his research.
"Anthony Levandowski had voluntarily recused himself late last month."
Angela Padilla, Uber’s associate general counsel for employment and litigation, drafted the internal email announcing Levandowski’s dismissal and explained the company’s position on the matter.
“Over the last few months Uber has provided significant evidence to the court to demonstrate that our self-driving technology has been built independently. 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.”
The chief engineer had already stepped down from his position as head of the department at the end of last month. According to Engadget, Levandowski recused himself of his duties after the court barred him from continuing to work on the technology while the legal proceedings were still being conducted.
It is unclear how the rest of Waymo v. Uber will play out. Ultimately it is going to be up to Google to prove that Levandowski stole documents. With him not willing to cooperate, Google may have to file separate criminal charges, which would put a resolution to the matter years down the road.