Uber Fires Engineer Accused of Stealing Self-Driving Secrets From Waymo

by

In the ongoing legal battle between Uber and Alphabet-owned Waymo, Uber announced this week that it has fired Anthony Levandowski, the engineer accused of stealing Waymo's self-driving intellectual property when he left his job at Google to start his own company, Otto (via The New York Times). In the original lawsuit, Waymo claimed that when Uber acquired Otto, Levandowski's stolen trade secrets came with the purchase, mainly centering around Waymo's LiDAR system.

In the months following Waymo's filing, Uber denied the accusations and "pressured Mr. Levandowski to cooperate" with the court. When he was ordered by a federal judge to give the court any evidence related to Waymo's accusations, as well as a testimony, he was said to have asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in order to avoid self-incrimination. The judge gave Levandowski an internal deadline to hand over the evidence in question, and when he missed it Uber decided to fire him.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (left) and former employee Anthony Levandowski (right)

According to legal analysts watching the case, if Levandowski continued to be employed by Uber, "the company risked being tarnished...as if it were indirectly condoning his actions."

“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 L. Padilla, Uber’s associate general counsel for employment and litigation, wrote in an email to employees. “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.”

She added: “We take our obligations under the court order very seriously, and so we have chosen to terminate his employment at Uber.”

When the lawsuit was filed in February, Levandowski and "other former Waymo employees" were accused of stealing around 14,000 confidential Waymo files that included data on Waymo's laser-based radar (LiDAR) system, which the company called "one of the most powerful parts" of its self-driving technology. Federal prosecutors began investigating the case earlier in May, while also partially granting Waymo's request for an injunction against Uber's self-driving efforts as the case continues.

Besides Waymo's lawsuit, Uber has also faced troubled waters this year when the Department of Justice began investigating the ride-hailing company over its use of "greyball" software that let drivers operate in places where the Uber app is restricted.

It also came out this year that Apple CEO Tim Cook threatened to remove Uber from the iOS App Store in 2015 after discovering that Uber was secretly "fingerprinting" iPhones that used the app. Uber said the decision was made to prevent fraud, making sure users could no longer create multiple fake accounts on one device to collect new account bonuses, despite knowing that its method was in direct violation of Apple's app privacy guidelines.

Although Uber's self-driving future is uncertain, Waymo has made progress in recent months with the launch of an autonomous car program in Phoenix, as well as the announcement of a partnership with Lyft that plans "to bring autonomous vehicle technology into the mainstream."

Tags: Google, Uber, Waymo

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
39 months ago

Is this a Mac rumor?

MacRumors is evolving into a forum full of haters so they've had to expand their scope to include other targets of vitriol, thus Uber has become a regular feature.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
39 months ago
The iPhone is where a majority of Apple's revenues come from and iPhones have been discussed here for quite some time. The forum topics for one show that the site has expanded beyond simply reporting on Mac rumors. People want to know about other things Apple and Apple-related. It didn't make sense to change the URL because they already had name recognition and an established base of users.

This story is related to Apple because Apple is said to be developing their own self-driving cars, or at least the software to run them. The Uber app also runs on iPhones, and there have been the recent revelations about the greyball software and the Uber software fingerprinting iPhones, but of which are of interest to both drivers and riders of Uber.

I am at the point where I think everyone who complains about articles not being a "Mac" "Rumor" have absolutely nothing better to do and instead come here to troll and encourage others to hate on the site. If you want to complain, remind yourself that nobody is forcing you to be here and you are free to go start your own site that only covers Mac Rumors. MacintoshRumors.com is available.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
39 months ago
Is this a Mac rumor?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
39 months ago
Uber is actual cancer in corporate form.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
39 months ago

Uber is being assaulted from multiple directions. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of covfefe. Trav and company deserve everything they're getting.

They say that a lot of criminals are dumb, these two seem right up there.

Perhaps the most compelling circumstantial evidence that Waymo presented to judge Alsup was a document showing 5,309,445 shares of restricted Uber stock, awarded to Levandowski with a vesting date of January 28, 2017 -- the day after Levandowski quit his job at Google to form his own self-driving car company, Otto. The value of those shares at the time, Waymo's attorneys said, was roughly $250 million, based on valuations of the privately held Uber. Waymo's lawyers contend the timing of the arrangement shows that Uber was paying Levandowski before he began working for the company. "The very next day, he’s awarded stock by Uber, when he’s supposedly starting his own company and building his own technology," Verhoeven said. "What’s really going on is he’s secretly working for Uber."

Uber have caught up with Waymo in a few months, what has happened is beyond obvious. Levandowski has taken the fifth and Uber are blocking the release of documents.

I hope they get nailed to the wall for it.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
39 months ago
Uber got ripped off in china and all the details taken from it, who's fired for this?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple's First MacBook Pro With a Retina Display Will Become 'Obsolete' in 30 Days

Monday June 1, 2020 7:50 am PDT by
If you are still hanging on to a Mid 2012 model of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina display, and require a new battery or other repairs, be sure to book an appointment with a service provider as soon as possible. In an internal memo today, obtained by MacRumors, Apple has indicated that this particular MacBook Pro model will be marked as "obsolete" worldwide on June 30, 2020, just over...

Five Mac Apps Worth Checking Out - June 2020

Tuesday June 2, 2020 2:25 pm PDT by
Apps developed for the Mac often don't receive as much coverage as apps designed for iPhones and iPads, so we have a series at MacRumors that highlights interesting Mac apps that are worth taking a look at. This month's apps are designed to make working from home a little bit easier. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Meeter (Free) - Working from home often...

Apple Music Joins Music Industry's Blackout Tuesday Awareness Campaign

Tuesday June 2, 2020 1:31 am PDT by
Apple Music has cancelled its Beats 1 radio schedule for Blackout Tuesday and is suggesting that listeners tune in to a radio stream celebrating the best in black music. Blackout Tuesday is a campaign organized by the music industry to support Black Lives Matter after Minneapolis citizen George Floyd was killed by police in the course of his arrest. On launching Apple Music, many users...

Next Apple Pencil Could Be Released in Black

Tuesday June 2, 2020 10:25 am PDT by
The next iteration of the Apple Pencil could be available in black for the first time, according to leaker Mr. White who shared the tidbit on Twitter this morning. A mockup of an Apple Pencil in black We haven't heard rumors of a next-generation Apple Pencil and it's not clear when a new model might be released. Apple is rumored to be working on mini-LED versions of the iPad Pro, and it's...

iPad Pro With A14X Chip, 5G, and Mini-LED Display Expected in First Half of 2021

Wednesday June 3, 2020 6:22 am PDT by
Apple plans to launch new iPad Pro models with an A14X chip, 5G connectivity, and a Mini-LED display in the first or second quarter of 2021, according to the increasingly reliable Twitter account L0vetodream. The leaker claims that the new iPad Pro models will be equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 modem, which supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz. mmWave is a set of 5G frequencies that...

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.5 Supplemental Update With Security Fix

Monday June 1, 2020 10:56 am PDT by
Apple today released a supplemental update for macOS Catalina 10.15.5, the fifth update to the macOS Catalina operating system that was released in October 2019. The supplemental update comes a week after the release of the macOS Catalina 10.15.5 update. ‌macOS Catalina‌ 10.15.5 is a free update that can be downloaded from the Mac App Store using the Update feature in the System...

Tim Cook Addresses George Floyd's Death and Ensuing Protests and Riots as Apple Temporarily Closes Some U.S. Stores

Sunday May 31, 2020 8:04 pm PDT by
Amid unrest in numerous U.S. cities following last week's killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Apple CEO Tim Cook has shared an internal memo with employees (via Bloomberg) addressing the pain that many are feeling and urging others to commit "to creating a better, more just world for everyone." Cook also announced that Apple is making donations to several groups challenging...

iCloud Down for Many Users, Causing 'The Application You Have Selected Does Not Exist' Error [Update: Fixed]

Tuesday June 2, 2020 4:44 pm PDT by
iCloud appears to be down for many people at the current time, based on complaints from MacRumors readers and Twitter users. Apple's system status page was not initially displaying an error when the problems started, but has been updated to confirm an issue with iCloud account sign ins. The support site says that some users may be unable to sign in to their iCloud accounts and may also be...

iOS 14 Again Said to Be Compatible With All iPhones Able to Run iOS 13

Monday June 1, 2020 2:08 pm PDT by
iOS 14 will be compatible with all iPhones and iPod touch models able to run iOS 13, according to information shared today by Israeli site The Verifier. The compatibility data was allegedly found in a leaked version of iOS 14 and confirmed by what The Verifier says is a "trusted source from the system development process." iOS 13 is compatible with the iPhone 6s and later, with a full...

iPhone 13 Prototype Mockup Depicts Notch-Free Design and USB-C Port

Thursday June 4, 2020 10:07 am PDT by
We still have a few months to go before Apple unveils the iPhone 12, but rumors about the iPhone 13, coming in fall 2021, are already circulating. Japanese site Mac Otakara today shared a rough 3D printed mockup of a 5.5-inch iPhone said to be coming in 2021, which is from "Alibaba sources." The model may be built on leaked specifications and rumors, but where the info comes from is unclear. ...