Uber has threatened to fire its top self-driving car engineer if he doesn’t comply with a court order and hand over documents in the Waymo v. Uber trade secrets lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed by Google self-driving car spinoff Waymo in February, claims that Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski illegally downloaded more than 14,000 files when he was working on self-driving cars at Google. Levandowski quit Google without notice in January, then founded a self-driving car startup called Otto, which was sold to Uber within a few months for $680 million. Levandowski, who is not a defendant in the case, pled the Fifth Amendment and answered almost no questions when he was deposed.
Last week, US District Judge William Alsup issued an order barring Levandowski from any work on lidar, the key technology behind self-driving cars. The order also calls on Uber to do a thorough investigation, listing every person “who has seen or heard any part of the downloaded materials;” interview everyone who has communicated with Levandowski about lidar; and submit a log of “all oral and written communications” in which Levandowski mentions lidar.