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Uber fires self-driving vehicle chief accused of stealing Google's tech


The company's letter to Levandowski states that he "represented and warranted" in his employment agreement that he has returned or destroyed all property and confidential information from any previous employer. What's more, Levandowski was ordered to hand over a large cache of documents, an order he refused after invoking his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination.

Uber General Counsel Salle Yoo told Levandowski in a letter filed in court by Levandowski's lawyers that he hasn't complied with Uber's requests to cooperate in obeying the judge's order to return the documents.

Now Uber is cutting ties with Mr. Levandowski after being stymied in its efforts to block Alphabet's lawsuit and the case moves toward an October trial.

Uber had been pressuring Levandowski to comply with an internal investigation of the matter, according to a company spokesperson.

The firing is the latest twist in a case that has pit two Silicon Valley giants over a technology many believe could transform transportation in the United States. Waymo claims its trade secrets made their way into Uber's Lidar technology, which bounces light pulses off objects so self-driving cars can "see" the road. "Your failure [to comply with legal requests] impeded Uber's internal investigation and defense of the lawsuit".

Earlier in May, a federal judge formally blocked Levandowski from all Lidar-related work at the company. Waymo has alleged that Levandowski downloaded 14,000 documents containing trade secrets before he founded a startup that was purchased by Uber. Uber denies these claims.

Uber has been hit by a string of departures of senior executives and other negative news.

In an e-mail to employees, Uber's Associate General Counsel Angela Padilla, wrote, "Over the last few months Uber has provided significant evidence to the court to demonstrate that our self-driving technology has been built independently".

The judge theorized that Levandowski could have used Waymo's documents himself even if he did not turn them over to Uber. It was unclear whether Uber would now share that information. Levandowski was awarded $250m in Uber stock as part of the deal, according to documents revealed in court.

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