Uber just fired the engineer at the center of the Google lawsuit

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick left and Anthony Levandowski co-founder of Otto pose for

Uber released an internal email to employees today, informing them that the company fired Anthony Levandowski, a VP of technology and a lead engineer in the company's self-driving vehicle.

Uber has fired a star engineer who is at the center of the company's self-driving fight with rival Waymo.

Levandowski is the man at the center of Uber's intense legal battle with Waymo, the self-driving vehicle unit of Google's parent Alphabet.

Levandowski has refused to turn over the documents to anyone, or his computer for inspection, citing a 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Uber reportedly tried to convince Levandowski to cooperate for a period stretching across a few months, albeit unsuccessfully.

Levandowski, whom Uber sidelined from some duties last month, has 20 days to comply with the court orders, according to the Uber letter.

Mr. Levandowski was sacked on Tuesday.

A federal judge recently ordered Uber to return files that Mr. Levandowski allegedly stole.

San Francisco-based Uber appears to be blaming the stolen documents exclusively on Levandowski in an effort to defend itself against Waymo's lawsuit. "Footnote 9 of the Order specifically states that 'in complying with this order, Uber has no excuse under the Fifth Amendment to pull any punches as to Levandowski'". Uber bought the company in 2016 for $680 million. That Uber has dismissed the key person in a program they've argued has to happen, despite skepticism about the future of self-driving cars in general, will likely damage a company already staring down a host of problems.

Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] said on Tuesday it fired the former head of its self-driving unit, Anthony Levandowski, as he failed to comply with the ride-hailing company's internal probe into a dispute with Alphabet Inc's Waymo unit. "We set a deadline that he did not meet, and we will not wait for this issue to make its way through the courts".

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