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Judge rules Uber can continue self-driving work but Levandowski barred from LiDAR

Judge rules Uber can continue self-driving work but Levandowski barred from LiDAR
From TechCrunch - May 15, 2017

A judge has ruled in the matter of a preliminary injunction related to Ubers use of autonomous tech, finding that Google employee and Otto founder Anthony Levandowski can no longer work on any projects that involve LiDAR technology. Uber, however, can continue its autonomous driving development work, and had already voluntarily removed Levandowski from his role at the head of the Uber Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) and taken him off all LiDAR-related projects, but the judges legal ruling is obviously a stronger measure than just a voluntary distancing.

Uber faced a preliminary injunction ordered by Judge William Alsup in the ongoing legal saga between the two companies. Waymo alleges that Uber exec and Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski downloaded tens of thousands ofconfidential documentsrelated to LiDAR design from Waymo before quitting the company, and used those documents to build self-driving tech at Otto and Uber.

As mentioned, in a last-ditch (and mostly successful) effort to prevent the injunction, Uber announced that Levandowski had been removed as the lead of its autonomous vehicle unit and would no longer supervise or participate in the development of LiDAR. Levandowski will still have a role at Uber, however.

Judge Alsup ruled that information gleaned from Waymos work leaked into Ubers own LiDAR tech development, regardless of whether any documents were actually found on Uber computers and devices.

Uber has argued that Levandowski had little to do with LiDAR development at Uber and that its designs were independently developed without any reliance on Waymos technology. Uber has said its current LiDAR system, codenamed Fuji, is unique because it uses a multi-lens design (as opposed to Waymos Grizzly Bear 3, or GrB3, which uses a single lens). Waymo has instead highlighted similarities between its circuit boards and Ubers.

Levandowski has consistently invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination throughout the case and Waymo has filed an arbitration proceeding against him, alleging he used confidential salary data to poach Waymo employees and bring them to Uber. Judge Alsup denied Ubers request to confine Waymos trade secret complaints to arbitration as well, and referred the case to the U.S. Attorney for a possible criminal investigation.

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