Global cab-hailing service Uber has fired Anthony Levandowski, who earlier headed its self-driving car project, for allegedly stealing some 14,000 documents from Google’s Waymo.
Waymo is an autonomous car development company spun out of Google’s parent company Alphabet. Levandowski was part of Waymo before he joined Uber.
According to a report in the Vegre on Tuesday, Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber earlier in 2017, alleging that the stolen information became the technological basis for Uber’s self-driving cars.
According to the lawsuit, six weeks before Levandowski left Google, he downloaded around 14,000 files from his company-issued computer containing trade secrets related to Waymo’s LIDAR technology, circuit board designs, and testing documentation.
The company also alleged that Levandowski tried to remove traces of those actions by reformating his laptop.
Levandowski joined Uber after his stint at Google, where he shepherded that company’s own self-driving car programme.
Uber had moved Levandowski to an operational role earlier to keep him away from running Uber’s self-driving car project.
Uber has denied the allegations against Levandowski, and defended him by trying to prove in court that it had developed its own self-driving technology independently.
However, Levandowski’s refusal to cooperate with those efforts was the reason for his firing, according to his termination letter.
According to an Uber executive familiar with the matter, the company gave Levandowski a timeline for complying with the company’s own internal investigation into the matter, and his position was terminated after he missed that deadline.