SAN FRANCISCO — Uber has fired Anthony Levandowski, a vice president of technology and the star engineer leading the company’s self-driving automobile efforts, according to an internal email sent to employees on Tuesday.
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 last year. Waymo claims that Uber is using trade secrets stolen from Google to develop Uber’s self-driving vehicles, a plan aided by Mr. Levandowski, a former longtime Google employee.
Uber has long denied the accusations. But when Mr. Levandowski was ordered by a federal judge to hand over evidence and testimony to that end, he asserted his Fifth Amendment rights, seeking to avoid possible criminal charges, according to his lawyers. Uber has been unable to convince Mr. Levandowski to cooperate.
“Over the last few months Uber has provided significant evidence to the court to demonstrate that our self-driving technology has been built independently,” Angela Padilla, Uber’s associate general counsel for employment and litigation, wrote in an email to employees. “Over that same period, Uber has urged Anthony to fully cooperate in helping the court get to the facts and ultimately helping to prove our case.”