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Uber’s self-driving head is moving away from his role during its legal battle with Alphabet

Anthony Levandowski, who pleaded the Fifth in the Uber-Alphabet suit, is being replaced by Eric Meyhofer “for the remainder of the Waymo litigation.”

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Anthony Levandowski, the head of Uber’s self-driving efforts, is stepping away from his role “through the remainder of the Waymo litigation,” according to a letter that he sent to staff.

Business Insider first reported the change. Uber confirmed his decision to Recode.

Levandowski, who joined Uber after the ride-hail company acquired his self-driving startup Otto in August 2016, will no longer be managing the company’s development of the radars that Alphabet is accusing him of stealing the designs for.

According to the email, Eric Meyhofer, an engineering lead and the co-founder of Carnegie Robotics, will now be the head of the department. Levandowski will now be reporting to Meyhofer who two sources describe as a close acquaintance of both Levandowski and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

“As you know, I currently don’t provide input on detailed LiDAR design choices,” Levandowski wrote. “But making this organizational change means I will have absolutely no oversight over or input into our LiDAR work. Going forward, please make sure not to include me in meetings or email threads related to LiDAR, or ask me for advice on the topic.”

Levandowski is at the center of a lawsuit levied against Uber by his former employer, Alphabet, which is also an Uber investor. The company alleges Levandowski stole 14,000 documents before leaving to start Otto. Alphabet claims the design for the radar were among those documents.

Alphabet has also filed for a preliminary injunction against the company, asking the court to make Uber cease operation of any vehicles that use its radar design. The judge in the case, William Alsup, said granting an injunction might entail removing Levandowski from his post for the duration of the case.

Levandowski’s decision today doesn’t necessarily go that far. The former Alphabet employee seems to maintain a leading role in the department as second-in-command.

Earlier this week, Levandowski — who is not specifically named in Alphabet’s suit against Uber — lost a bid to keep the ride-hail company from producing a document that he feared would incriminate him as a part of the discovery process. Levandowski asserted his Fifth amendment rights and argued that this document should fall under these rights. The court disagreed.

Here’s the full email:

Team:

I want to let you know that Travis and I have decided that I will be recused from all LiDAR-related work and management at Uber, through the remainder of the Waymo litigation. This change means that Eric Meyhofer will be the head of ATG, reporting to Travis, and I will report to Eric. My other responsibilities will not change.

As you know, I currently don’t provide input on detailed LiDAR design choices. But making this organizational change means I will have absolutely no oversight over or input into our LiDAR work. Going forward, please make sure not to include me in meetings or email threads related to LiDAR, or ask me for advice on the topic.

We all know the hard work that Eric, James and the LiDAR team have put into independently developing our technology over the past few years.

We should all be proud that our self-driving technology has been built independently, from the ground up. With this move, I hope to keep the team focused on achieving the vision that brought us all here.

Thanks,

Anthony

This is developing...


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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