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Uber’s Head of Self-Driving Car Research Steps Aside as Waymo Lawsuit Looms

Anthony Levandowski, the head of Uber’s self-driving car research, is stepping down from his leadership role but will remain at the ride-hailing company as pressures from a lawsuit filed by Google’s Waymo continues to mount.

Levandowski announced his decision in an email to employees, first obtained by Business Insider and confirmed as valid by Uber.

Levandowski is still at Uber Advanced Technologies Center, but he’s not leading it and won’t have oversight over its development of light ranging and sensing radar known as LiDAR, an Uber spokesman confirmed. He is further recusing himself from all decisions around the sensing technology, which is at the center of Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber.

Waymo, the Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under Alphabet, filed in February a lawsuit against self-driving truck startup Otto and its parent company Uber for patent infringement and stealing trade secrets.

The lawsuit makes a number of allegations specifically against Levandowski, including that he downloaded more than 14,000 confidential and proprietary files shortly before his resignation. The 14,000 files included a wide range of highly confidential files, including Waymo’s LiDAR circuit board designs, the lawsuit claims.

Otto, which was founded by former Google car and map veterans Levandowski and Lior Ron, was acquired by Uber in August 2016 for $680 million. The lawsuit alleges that Otto and Uber are using key parts of Waymo’s self-driving technology, specifically related to its light detection and ranging radar. This technology, known in the industry as LiDAR, measures distance using laser light to generate highly accurate 3D map of the world around the car.