Uber fires autonomous car researcher involved in lawsuit

Posted May 31, 2017

Mr. Levandowski's termination, effective immediately, comes as a result of his involvement in a legal battle between Uber and Waymo, the self-driving technology unit spun out of Google a year ago.

Waymo, Google's self-driving auto company, is suing Uber for allegedly using technology stolen by Levandowski while he was still at Google.

Uber said it had pressed Levandowski to comply with an internal investigation for months and would not wait for the issue to wind its way through the judicial system.

Mr. Levandowski was sacked on Tuesday.

Uber has fired a star engineer who is at the center of the company's self-driving fight with rival Waymo.

Levandowski was sacked "for cause", according to a copy of the termination letter obtained by the Washington Post, and he has 20 days to contest the decision if he so chooses. 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.

Mr. Levandowski and his lawyers didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. In the NY magazine profile, telling his coworkers he was glad that Uber didn't have "the first death" due to self-driving vehicles.

Levandowski's expertise in robot-controlled cars is the main reason that the ride-hailing company bought his startup for $680 million nine months ago. "Footnote 9 of the Order specifically states that 'in complying with this order, Uber has no excuse under the Fifth Amendment to pull any punches as to Levandowski'". The company is testing autonomous cars with real passengers in Pittsburgh and elsewhere. And now, a day after an embarrassing new profile arrived in NY magazine, the company has yet another firing to deal with, this time its key engineer for its self driving auto. Uber set a deadline deadline for him to comply, but he didn't meet it.