Uber self-driving chief steps aside: report

Uber self-driving chief steps aside: report

UPDATE: April 27, 2017, 5:52 p.m. EDT This story has been updated to include Uber's confirmation of the original report.

Anthony Levandowski, the embattled head of Uber's self-driving car program, has announced internally he'll recuse himself from work as the head of the company's Advanced Technologies Group (ATG). 

The move, which was first reported by Business Insider and then confirmed by Uber reps to Mashable via email, comes after a tumultuous period for Levandowski. He famously left Google X's self-driving car project (which is now the standalone company Waymo) to found self-driving startup Otto, which was purchased by Uber and rolled into its own self-driving car program. 

Recently Levandowski has faced accusations of stealing Google's self-driving tech, specifically for its LiDAR sensor system, as part of a lawsuit Google parent company Alphabet brought against Uber's autonomous driving efforts for patent infringement. 

Uber employees were alerted of Levandowski's via email, obtained by BI, which printed the message in full and we have reproduced below:  

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

Notably, Levandowski isn't stepping down and leaving the company entirely, as other Uber executives have in the midst of the raid hailing company's many recent controversies. For now, he will stay on at Uber in a diminished role. 

While Uber reps confirmed the validity of the email, they provided no other comment about Levandowski's future at the company.

 

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