Uber has dismissed Anthony Levandoski because he refused to help with the investigation into stealing trade secrets from Google. He decided not to testify and said he wouldn’t hand over requested documents to the court.
The court warned Uber against Levandoski’s actions, claiming he stole 14,000 documents and that he had used them to further Uber’s driverless car efforts. Judge Willian Alsup added, according to Reuters, that his clear involvement is the reason he wouldn’t take his computer into the office everyday. The court had already banned Levandoski from working at the company earlier this month.
However, Uber is still claiming the technology it is using differs from Google’s, and the stolen files don’t exist on Uber’s network at all.
Uber said in its termination letter, that Mr. Levandowski had impeded the investigation and defense of the lawsuit. The company’s lawyers added that his refusal to help gives it the right to allege that he didn’t give back or destroy all secret information that belong to a prior employer when he first joined the company.
The letter also added that Mr. Levandowski now has 20 days to comply with court orders.
Uber bought Levandowski’s self-driving truck business Otto, that he created for £532, six months after he left Google.
09/06/2017: The battle between Waymo and Uber is getting a little nasty, with the two companies reportedly getting a little hot under the collar at a court hearing last week.
Last week, Waymo accused Anthony Levandowski of hatching a secretive plan with Uber when he left Google, setting up his own driverless car tech firm, Otto, which Uber would then acquire, along with the technology Levandowski reportedly stole from Google.
The Google-owned firm said before leaving the company to set up Otto, Levandowski stole 14,000 documents from Google, which he integrated into the technology at Otto and then these automatically transferred to Uber when it acquired Levandowski’s company.
“In fact, there was this clandestine plan all along that Uber and Mr. Levandowski had a deal,” one of Waymo’s lawyers, Charles Verhoeven said.
However, Uber counter-argued, saying there was no evidence at all that Levandowski or Uber had even mentioned Google.
“We’ve interviewed more than 85 Uber employees, and more than 40 attorneys spent more than 6,000 hours reviewing documents, including over weekends,” Arturo Gonzalez, a lawyer for Uber, said. “After reviewing more than 300,000 documents, we’ve only found one Google email in the files.”
11/04/2017: Uber says it didn’t copy Google’s autonomous car tech
Uber has hit back at claims it stole Google’s driverless car tech, saying there’s no evidence the taxi firm stole any of Google’s files, nor is there any proof it has integrated any of Waymo’s innovations in its cars.
Last month, Google filed an injunction against Uber, banning the company from using the technology that powers its self-driving cars.
“Waymo’s injunction motion is a misfire,” said Angela Padilla, one of Uber’s lawyers. “There is no evidence that any of the 14,000 files in question ever touched Uber’s servers, and Waymo’s assertion that our multi-lens LiDAR is the same as their single-lend LiDAR is clearly false.”
However, Uber is unable to prove the files weren’t stolen, even though they’re not stored on the company’s servers, and this could pt the taxi firm in hot water. Unless it can prove the files were not stolen from Waymo, the injunction will stand, a judge ruled.
“If Waymo genuinely thought that Uber was using its secrets, it would not have waited more than five months to seek an injunction,” Padilla added. “Waymo doesn’t meet the high bar for an injunction, which would stifle our independent innovation – probably Waymo’s goal in the first place.”
One of Uber’s self-driving cars has crashed in Arizona after another, non-autonomous car crashed into it last week.
Citizen journalism news source @FrescoNews, posted pictures and videos of the accident, while local newspaper ABC15 revealed it was the fault of the other driver, because it failed to stop when the autonomous car was driving along the road.
The accident was so severe, the Uber driverless car flipped onto its side, although Fresco News, ABC15 and Uber all said no one was injured in the incident.
However, although some of the news reports said there was a back seat passenger in the car as well as the driver, Uber said there wasn’t.
“We are continuing to look into this incident and can confirm we had no backseat passengers in the vehicle,” Uber confirmed to Tech Crunch in a statement.
Uber has now paused its testing in Arizona, although it will continue in San Francisco, the company said.
27/02/2017: Alphabet sues Uber for infringing patent
Google’s parent company Alphabet is reportedly suing Uber for stealing thousands of files relating to its automated car technology.
The files were apparently stolen by Anthony Levandowski, who used to be a manager at Alphabet’s Waymo car subsidiary. He lifted the files from a computer and used the technical information to develop the technology for Otto, which was later sold to Uber.
“Otto and Uber have taken Waymo’s intellectual property so that they could avoid incurring the risk, time and expense of independently developing their own technology,” Waymo said in a 28-page San Francisco federal court filing.
Otto’s technology was designed to help trucks navigate around highways and smaller roads autonomously. The infrastructure behind Otto’s tech is now being used by Uber to develop its self-driving taxis.
“Mr Levandowski took extraordinary efforts to raid Waymo’s design server and then conceal his activities,” Waymo said in the lawsuit.
The company discovered Otto was using its technology when one of its employees was accidentally copied in to an email that showed off the company’s circuit board. Waymo claims it was almost identical to those developed by Alphabet’s engineers.
However, Levandowski doesn’t seem to be the only employee who may have stolen trade secrets from the company, the filing explained, although it doesn’t reveal the information allegedly stolen by others.
An Uber spokesperson told AFP it takes allegations made against Uber and Otto employees seriously and will review the matter carefully.
11/10/2016: Uber reveals it’s testing its self-driving car technology
Uber has revealed it’s testing its self-driving cars in San Francisco, although the vehicles have only been designed for internal use rather than for carting passengers around.
“These are for internal use only. They have a safety driver upfront and are not part of our ride-sharing service in the city,” Uber told website Inverse.
“Testing these cars in different environments is critical to the future success of self-driving technology, which will help improve road safety and cut congestion over the long term.”
It’s thought the first iteration of Uber’s autonomous cars will be used for mapping rather than as taxis, helping it build up its own models of the areas it roams.
Uber launched its first fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh last month, but the fact these are being used for commercial purposes could suggest the company will launch its own autonomous service in San Francisco in the coming months.
Uber is notorious for being secretive about its plans, so it’s no surprise the company is denying it’s using the cars for passenger services.
24/08/2016: Uber said it’s working on producing self-driving cars with Otto, a company it’s just acquired for $680m and Volvo, because it doesn’t know how to make cars.
Otto produces self-driving trucks, but Uber will take the technology to drive the vehicles and apply it to smaller vehicles, as well as continuing to support Otto’s truck business.
The new personal transportation, delivery and trucking division will be led by Otto’s co-founder, Anthony Levandowski, but will still be overseen by Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick. Levandowski has lots of experience making self-driving vehicles and his first invention, a self-driving motorcycle called Ghostrider is on display at the Smithsonian museum and research complex.
Uber will also partner with Volvo, which will provide the car-making expertise because Uber said it has no idea how to make a car.
“This partnership is crucial to our self-driving strategy because Uber has no experience making cars. To do it well is incredibly hard, as I realized on my first visit to a car manufacturing plant several years ago,” Kalanick said in a statement.
“By combining Uber’s self-driving technology with Volvo’s state-of-the art vehicles and safety technology, we’ll get to the future faster than going it alone.”
Kalanick explained the company wants to drive forward safety. It believes self-driving cars are the answer to road accidents because 90 per cent of accidents are caused by human error.
This is a big step for Uber, the company said. Without constantly innovating on new ideas and keeping up with the competition, Uber won’t be able to become much more than just an on-demand taxi company.
“More and more the world of atoms is interacting with bits. In order to provide digital services in the physical world, we must build sophisticated logistics, artificial intelligence and robotics systems that serve and elevate humanity,” Kalanick said.