Ex-Autonomous Vehicle Engineer For Google And Uber Charged By The U.S. DoJ

The U.S. DoJ confirmed a criminal indictment against Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer. At a press conference in San Jose the DoJ announced a total of 33 charges for theft and attempted theft of trade secrets. Alleging Levandowski took confidential information from Google’s self-driving car project to Uber.

Levandowski worked at Google’s self-driving car project prior to its becoming Waymo. Leaving in 2016 to launch his own self-driving truck company, later acquired by Uber according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges Levandowski downloaded thousands of files from Project Chauffeur, Waymo’s predecessor, in the months prior to leaving Google. These files allegedly contained “critical engineering information about the hardware used on Project Chauffeur self-driving vehicles,” and were transferred to Levandowski’s personal laptop.

“Levandowski surrendered himself to authorities at the San Jose courthouse Tuesday morning,” said U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson. Anderson told reporters, Both Uber and Google have cooperated with government officials in the still-ongoing investigation.

The indictment has a flavor similar to a now-settled lawsuit Waymo brought against Uber in February 2017. Waymo claimed drawings of 3-D LIDAR sensors used in Uber’s self-driving held a “striking resemblance” to Waymo’s designs.

The suit alleged Levandowski had taken “extraordinary efforts to raid Waymo’s design server and then conceal his activities,” including the downloading of more than 14,000 confidential or proprietary files prior to his resignation. In the settlement, Uber agreed to pay Waymo a 0.34% equity stake in Uber.

Responding to the new charges, Miles Ehrlich and Ismail Ramsey, lawyers for Levandowski, put out a statement saying the indictment “rehashes claims already discredited in a civil case that settled more than a year and a half ago. The downloads at issue occurred while Anthony was still working at Google—when he and his team were authorized to use the information. None of these supposedly secret files ever went to Uber or any other company.”

Header Image: “Anthony Levandowski – Google Engineer” by shinnygogo 

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