Uber Fires Driverless-Car Executive at the Center of Google Legal Battle

Adam Rowe		@AdamRRowe

Eric Meyhofer, the director of engineering at Uber's advantaged technologies group, has been leading the self-driving team since Levandowski stepped aside and will continue to do so.

Anthony Levandowski - a former "star engineer" at Google's Waymo autonomous vehicle unit who allegedly took thousands of secret documents to Uber - was terminated by the ride-share company on Friday, .

Uber reportedly tried to convince Levandowski to cooperate for a period stretching across a few months, albeit unsuccessfully.

Almost two weeks ago, Uber's General Counsel Salle Yoo warned Levandowski that the company would take adverse employment action including termination of his employment if he fails to comply with a court order to return all Waymo documents related to its self-driving technology. Uber denies these claims.

Alsup wrote that "in complying with this order, Uber has no excuse under the Fifth Amendment to pull any punches as to Levandowski".

Anthony Levandowski, who joined Uber as an engineer and vice president after his company, Otto, was acquired for $680 million, is out of a job, according to an internal e-mail first reported by The New York Times.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, left, and Anthony Levandowski, co-founder of Otto, pose for a photo in the lobby of Uber headquarters, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in San Francisco.

TechCrunch reports that Levandowski's firing followed "months of the company attempting to have him comply with and assist its own internal investigation into the matter".

Levandowski, a top engineer on self-driving technology, has turned into a liability for Uber in court.

Uber had argued that it was acceptable to sideline Levandowski by preventing him from working on Lidar technology, but not firing him.

Uber has been hit by a string of departures of senior executives and other negative news. Waymo claims Levandowski took 14,000 secret documents from the company.

The judge theorized that Levandowski could have used Waymo's documents himself even if he did not turn them over to Uber. It is dealing with a sexual harassment investigation internally and is the subject of a criminal probe over a tool it built to help drivers dodge law enforcement in certain cities.

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