Uber fires Anthony Levandowski, self-driving car executive at heart of Google lawsuit

Key Points
  • Uber fired Levandowski on Tuesday
  • Levandowski had been prevented from working on Lidar systems
Uber fires head of self-driving tech unit

Uber fired executive Anthony Levandowski on Tuesday.

Levandowski was at the center of a lawsuit between Uber and Alphabet's Waymo unit, the latter of which accused Levandowski of stealing trade secrets related to autonomous vehicles and taking them with him to Uber.

CNBC confirmed the news after a New York Times report Tuesday. Eric Meyhofer, who took Levandowski's spot leading the Advanced Technologies Group, will continue to head up the team. Uber said that it had been asking Levandowski to comply with internal investigations and that he did not meet internal deadlines.

"Over the last few months Uber has provided significant evidence to the court to demonstrate that our self-driving technology has been built independently," Uber's associate general counsel for employment and litigation said, the Times reported. "Over that same period, Uber has urged Anthony to fully cooperate in helping the court get to the facts and ultimately helping to prove our case."

An injunction earlier this month prevented Levandowski from working on Lidar systems at Uber. Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, helps a car understand where it is relative to its surroundings and is a key component of autonomous vehicles that allows them to effectively "see."

U.S. District Judge William Alsup said earlier this month that there was evidence that Levandowski "had taken and retained possession of Waymo's confidential files."

— CNBC's Deirdre Bosa contributed to this report.