Former Google Exec Anthony Levandowski Allegedly Sold Waymo's Tech to Uber

Mar 13, 2017 07:36 AM EDT | BC Tabotabo

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Anthony Levandowski was a former Google executive who left to start Otto, his own self-driving truck company in Feb. 2016. After only six months, he sold his newfound company to Uber for $680 million.

According to a report by The Atlantic, Waymo accused Uber of stealing some of its confidential designs for self-driving vehicles. Last week, a spokesperson from the ridesharing company responded by calling it a "baseless attempt to slow down a competitor." This came shortly after Google Waymo requested for an injunction against Uber to stop its work on driverless technology.

Waymo filed for an injunction against Uber claiming that a former leading engineer for their self-driving company secretly stole their proprietary information. Apparently, Anthony Levandowski stole around 14,000 files from the company right before he quit. For proof, the Google-owned subsidiary has an email that Uber did, in fact, copy their laser-radar system. This is allegedly the crucial component for their self-driving car technology.

In another report by the New York Times, Google Waymo has testimony from various employees and their security engineer about the incident. According to Gary Brown, Google's security engineer specializing in forensics, Mr. Levandowski allegedly searched their network in December 2015 for login details about "Chauffeur." Apparently, Chauffeur is the internal code name for their self-driving project.

After gaining access, the former Google exec then installed special software that allowed him to access the information. He proceeded to download over 14,000 files totaling nearly 10 GB of data, according to the statement. Other former Google employees that joined Levandowski were Sameer Kshirsagar and Radu Raduta. They also gained access to the Google Drive folder containing the proprietary information. Soon after, they also left the company to join Otto as well.

The federal court will hear the preliminary injunction motion on April 27. This injunction will essentially stop Uber from working on driverless cars. Travis Kalaick, Uber's chief executive, has stated that their autonomous vehicles are central to their company's future. Meanwhile, Anthony Levandowski, Sameer Kshirsagar, and Radu Raduta were not available for comment.

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