Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) chief is “stepping aside” as the company continues its legal battle with Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car unit, Business Insider is reporting.
The move means Anthony Levandowski will no longer be working on work related to Lidar, the laser sensor technology used for autonomous driving.
“I want to let you know that Travis and I have decided that I will be recused from all LiDAR-related work and management at Uber, through the remainder of the Waymo litigation,” Levandowski wrote in an internal company e-mail obtained by Business Insider.
“As you know, I currently don’t provide input on detailed LiDAR design choices. But making this organizational change means I will have absolutely no oversight over or input into our LiDAR work. Going forward, please make sure not to include me in meetings or email threads related to LiDAR, or ask me for advice on the topic.”
Levandowski will retain his remaining responsibilities at Uber and, in the interim, Eric Meyhofer will be head of ATG. Meyhofer, a robotics expert who joined Uber in 2015, is not linked in any way to the lawsuit launched by Waymo.
Waymo is accusing Levandowski of stealing elements of its Lidar technology to take with him to start Otto, a self-driving transport company which was purchased by Uber last August. The company, as part of its lawsuit, is accusing Levandowski of downloading 14,000 “confidential and proprietary design” files relating to the company’s “lidar and circuit board” before resigning as the technical lead of its self-driving car division.
Waymo has alleged that Levandowski searched for and installed specialized software on his company-issued laptop before leaving.
Levandowski has said he did download some files to enable him to work from home, but denied taking those files with him when he left to co-found Otto with Lior Ron, former product lead of Google Maps; former Google robotics program lead Claire Delaunay and Don Burnette, a former Google software engineer.
The next step in the legal proceedings is a preliminary injunction hearing next week. If the judge sides with Waymo, Uber’s autonomous vehicle research could be put on hold indefinitely.