By on April 28, 2017

self-driving uber advanced tech center autonomous car

Anthony Levandowski, the man at the nucleus of Alphabet Inc.’s intellectual property lawsuit against Uber Technologies, has abandoned his position as the team lead for the firm’s autonomous vehicle development.

Uber explained that Levandowski’s new role is less critical and has no authority over the company’s LIDAR technology, which he is accused of stealing from Alphabet’s Waymo when it was still part of Google. Since the lawsuit, Uber has done everything possible to distance itself from the man without outright firing him. 

Levandowski stated that the the decision to remove himself from the light detection and ranging development team was reached after discussions with Uber’s cheif executive, Travis Kalanick. He claimed that that it was best to recuse himself from the LIDAR program for the duration of the lawsuit.

Eric Meyhofer, who worked at Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineer Center prior to joining Uber, has taken over as head of the company’s Advanced Technologies Group.

“I currently don’t provide input on detailed LIDAR design choices,” Levandowski wrote in an e-mail obtained by Bloomberg. “But making this organizational change means I will have absolutely no oversight over or input into our LIDAR work. Going forward, please make sure not to include me in meetings or email threads related to LIDAR, or ask me for advice on the topic.”

Waymo has repeatedly alleged that Levandowki stole its LIDAR designs when he was employed there and subsequently handed them over to Uber to use in its own autonomous vehicles. Levandowski joined Uber in 2016 when it acquired his autonomous trucking startup Otto.

In the legal battle, he has opted to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights and will not be testifying. The two companies are due back in court on May 3rd to debate a preliminary injunction that would prevent Uber from using any Waymo-derived technologies. Based upon earlier statements made by the judge hearing the trial, it should be quite the show.

[Image: Uber Technologies Inc.]

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7 Comments on “Uber Demotes Employee at the Core of Self-Driving Technology Lawsuit...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I stand by my earlier prediction that this guy will eventually be unemployed, Waymo will have to divulge its secret technology in order to win the case, and Uber will be prevented from using it.

    All of them are morons.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      I hear you. It doesn’t look good for Uber and this might result in a negative net gain for Waymo — depending on how secret the judge will let them to be. Everything the judge has said so far points to him not being interested in that happening though.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll hire Levandowksy if noone else will :) He’ll be about as “unemployed” as Werner von Braun was.

  • avatar

    Levandowski is a psychopath from all the accounts I’ve heard and embodies everything that’s wrong with Silicon Valley. It seems like he really thought he could get away with conning Google and found a long lost twin in Kalanick. Not that Google or anyone else involved needs any sympathy but its enjoyable to see those two bros go down ;)

    • 0 avatar


    • 0 avatar

      So this guy is what’s “WRONG????” with Silicon Valley????

      And the gaggle of semi literate know-nothing-produce-less ambulance chasers trying to stick their useless, grubby fingers into some of the (no doubt by now excessive, but still….) valuations of stuff he has helped spawn, are somehow not?

      The dude’s a bit reckless by contemporary PC standards. Kind of like Musk’s public persona, I guess. But not at all by Wright Brothers and Manhattan Project ones.

      Imagine, an autonomous vehicle engineer busy putting all the knowledge and tech he can muster, into the cars he is in a position to supervise building. Instead of asking a bunch of hardly sentient leeches, for permission to turn around in his office chair…. The horrors, the horrors!

      If sitting around debating the future, taking everyones inputs in a conference room, and letting everyone have their say, while not hurting anyones feelings, had any merit whatsoever in the company of competent men; Soviet 5 year planners would all have been greater contributors to technology that the above Wrights and Manhattan Projecters. Alas, they were not. And neither will any too-stupid-to-do-the-math-required-for-engineering ambulance chaser ever be.

  • avatar

    Presumably, he got several hundred million dollars from selling his ‘company’ to Uber. Wonder if Uber will claw that back if it loses its case?

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