Uber fires self-driving vehicle chief at center of court case

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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 previous year.

The Uber engineer at the center of the company's litigation with Waymo, Anthony Levandowski, has been fired. But it may have been a necessary step after William Alsup, the federal judge overseeing the case, partly granted an injunction that Waymo had sought against Uber and instructed Uber to do whatever it could to ensure compliance, even if that meant firing Levandowski.

In a statement on Tuesday, Uber said that Eric Meyhofer, who took charge of autonomous vehicle research when Levandowski stepped aside, will continue to lead the work with Levandowski's subordinates now reporting to Meyhofer.

Last summer, after a man died in a Tesla that was using the car's Autopilot system, which allows for autonomous driving on highways, Levandowski told several Uber engineers that they were not pushing aggressively enough. He has repeatedly cited his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination when asked about his actions, and he has declined to comply with a judge's recent order to turn over the documents he allegedly stole from Google. It said that Levandowski was sacked for cause and that he has a contractual right to correct "deficiencies" within 20 days.

Uber is being accused of stealing Waymo's self-driving technology. His lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Uber has insisted for years that it needs to be first to the market with self-driving cars, or the company will be at risk.

According to Uber, Levandowski was let go after failing to meet a deadline to comply with the court's investigation into his alleged theft of 14,000 confidential files from Waymo.

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