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Uber Executive is Invoking Fifth Amendment to Escape Charges


The Uber app on a smartphone

The Uber executive, Anthony Levandowski, who was accused of stealing self-driving car technology from his former job at Google, is now invoking the fifth amendment. His reason for doing this is, according to his lawyers, to avoid potential charges. Levandowski was once head of Google’s self-driving car project. Now, he is doing almost the same thing, but at Uber. According to some court transcripts, he is invoking the fifth amendment for fear there might be criminal action going on, in his case. The two giant companies are both currently making efforts to become the leading name in the self-driving car technology. With this action by Levandowski, the fight becomes even tougher.

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The story behind it all

This lawsuit is actually between Uber and Waymo, which is Google’s Alphabet self-driving car branch. Waymo is the company which actually accused Levandowski of stealing very important and secret documents regarding this technology, and then taking the information to Uber. He reportedly based all of his driverless efforts on the stolen information and helped the ride-hailing company a great deal. It is interesting to note that, immediately after he left his job at Google, Levandowski started his own similar truck company,a start-up called Otto. Only six months after, Uber bought Otto for $680 million. Waymo is actually making efforts right now to stop the driverless vehicle development at Uber.

Apart from this, Waymo also accused Levandowski of installing a software into a database while he was still working at Google. Through this software, he downloaded over 14,000 files. This means about 9,7 gigabytes of important data regarding Google’s self-driving technology. The company also asked Uber to return all the files which it received from Levandwski.

Levandowski’s uncertain future

Anthony Levandwski’s future might become very uncertain if everything does not go as planned. During a private hearing, Uber’s lawyer said that the ride-hailing company is not able to force their executive to testify if he does not want to. However, a judge said that on the contrary, the company has every right to force him to testify. If he refuses, Uber can then fire him. The company refused to offer a clear answer about whether or not Levandwski indeed stole that information. However, it promised to prove that its self-driving car technology is not coming from Google’s Waymo.  

The ride-hailing company’s lawyers tried very hard to keep the hearing private and also, the details of this very serious lawsuit. They stated that it may hurt his reputation very much. When Uber acquired Otto and hired Levandowski, the company though that finally, their dreams regarding self-driving cars would come true. Nobody knows for now if the executive indeed stole the technology from Google or if the company invented it. One thing is certain. Uber seems to be facing non-stop problems for some months. From sexual harassment allegations, to gender discrimination and a tape showing the company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, in a heated argument with a driver. Now, this issue. How much can Uber take? Only time will tell.

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About Donna Griggs

Donna.Griggs@thenextdigit.com'

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