Donald Trump is on his way out of the White House, but that didn't stop him from pardoning 73 people and commuting the sentences of another 70 people on the last day of his presidency. One name on that list is Anthony Levandowski, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets from the Google-owned, self-driving car company Waymo. Levandowski was a co-founder of Google's self-driving car division before leaving the tech giant in 2016 to start a self-driving truck company called Otto. That company was subsequently acquired by Uber, and Waymo filed a lawsuit alleging that their confidential information ended up in the hands of Uber. Levandowski was looking at a 10-year sentence, but he eventually pleaded guilty to trade secret theft, thus reducing his prison sentence.
A former Google engineer has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing trade secrets before joining Uber's effort to build robotic vehicles for its ride-hailing service. The sentence handed down Tuesday by U.S. District Judge William Alsup came more than four months after former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski reached a plea agreement with the federal prosecutors who brought a criminal case against him last August. Levandowski, who helped steer Google's self-driving car project before landing at Uber, was also ordered to pay more than $850,000. Alsup had taken the unusual step of recommending the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into Levandowski while presiding over a high-profile civil trial between Uber and Waymo, a spinoff from a self-driving car project that Google began in 2007 after hiring Levandowski to be part of its team. Levandowski eventually became disillusioned with Google and left the company in early 2016 to start his own self-driving truck company, called Otto, which Uber eventually bought for $680 million. He wound up pleading guilty to one count, culminating in Tuesday's sentencing.
SAN FRANCISCO – A former Google star engineer charged with stealing trade secrets from its self-driving car program has agreed to plead guilty in a deal with prosecutors, according to court documents filed Thursday. Anthony Levandowski, 39, was a founding member of an autonomous vehicle project in 2009 called "Chauffeur," one of Google's more ambitious undertakings. Several years later Levandowski began thinking of leaving Google for another self-driving endeavor that was eventually named "Otto," the plea deal said. He began negotiating with ride-sharing giant Uber to invest in or buy Otto while he was still working at Google, and admits having downloaded a whole series of documents a few months before his resignation in January 2016. "Prior to my departure, I downloaded thousands of files related to Project Chauffeur," Levandowski said in court documents.
Uber has fired Anthony Levandowski, the ex-Google engineer at the centre of a major self driving lawsuit. Uber announced the firing of its vice president of technology in an internal email to employees today, and has maintained that its self-driving technology did not copy Google's earlier work. It wanted Levandowski to cooperate in order to help with the case, but the engineer cited his Fifth Amendment rights to avoid possible incrimination. High-profile: Levandowski, a'swaggering' six-foot-seven tech leader, is one of Silicon Valley's most significant figures in the development of self-driving cars In lidar -- or light detection and ranging -- scanning, one or more lasers sends out short pulses, which bounce back when they hit an obstacle, whether clouds, leaves or rocks. In self-driving cars, the sensors constantly scan the surrounding areas looking for information and acting as the'eyes' of the car.
The federal government on Tuesday asked a federal judge to sentence Anthony Levandowski to 27 months in prison for theft of trade secrets. In March, Levandowski pleaded guilty to stealing a single confidential document related to Google's self-driving technology on his way out the door to his new startup. That startup was quickly acquired by Uber, triggering a titanic legal battle between the companies that was settled in 2018. This story originally appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted source for technology news, tech policy analysis, reviews, and more. Ars is owned by WIRED's parent company, Condé Nast.