Uber engineer leaves autonomous unit amid lawsuit

Peter Newman
Who Do You Trust Building Autonomous Cars

BI Intelligence


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Anthony Levandowski is stepping aside as the head of Uber’s Advanced Technologies group, and has been replaced by robotics expert Eric Meyhofer, reports Business Insider.

Lewandowski is the founder of the autonomous trucking company Otto, acquired by Uber for $680 million, and a former Google employee who is at the center of a lawsuit against the ride hailing company by Alphabet’s Waymo.

In an e-mail obtained by Business Insider, Levandowski instructed Uber employees not to include him on any correspondence or in any meetings regarding Uber’s LiDAR development. LiDAR designs are at the center of Waymo’s suit: it alleges that Levandowski and a number of other former employees downloaded proprietary data and designs without authorization, and used them in technology that was later employed in Otto and eventually Uber autonomous systems. According to the e-mail, Levandowski would not be involved in any LiDAR-related work until litigation with Waymo concludes.

Uber and Waymo will be in court on May 3 for a hearing regarding a possible preliminary injunction, which could halt Uber’s autonomous program. Tech companies like Waymo already have an advantage over ride-hailing companies like Uber in perceived trustworthiness among tech-savvy consumers — with 26% trusting tech companies when it comes to autonomous vehicle development, versus just 2% for ride-hailing companies — according to an exclusive Business Insider survey. This could be a key moment in self-driving car development, potentially sidelining a major player that has been among the first public movers in the space.

The self-driving car is no longer a futuristic fantasy. Consumers can already buy vehicles that, within a few years time, will get software updates enabling them to hit the road without the need for a driver.

This autonomous revolution will upend the automotive sector and disrupt huge swaths of the economy, while radically improving energy efficiency and changing the way people approach transport around the world.

Automakers and tech companies are racing to develop the technology that will power self-driving cars in the coming years. That tech is advancing, but leaves observers with a bigger question: will consumers trust driverless car tech, and will they want to use autonomous cars?

Peter Newman, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on self-driving cars that analyzes the market, and forecasts vehicle shipments and market penetration. It also profiles the players expected to take on a prominent role in the autonomous future, examines the barriers to autonomous car development and adoption, and reviews developments in technology, regulation, and consumer sentiment. Finally, it analyzes the impact the introduction of autonomy will have on various industries and transport trends. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Self-driving cars are coming; there will be fully autonomous cars on the roads in the US in 2018, and adoption will just take off from there.
  • The technology is developing swiftly to allow fully self-driving vehicles, while the regulatory environment is adapting to the anticipated changes that this new technology will bring.
  • We conducted a survey asking our exclusive BI Insiders panel about their thoughts on self-driving cars, the future of the automotive industry, and the impact autonomous vehicles will have on their purchasing habits moving forward. The results provide a picture of consumer sentiment at the precipice of the autonomous era.

In full, the report:

  • Sizes the current and future self-driving car market, forecasting shipments and projecting installed base.
  • Explains the current state of technology, regulation, and consumer perception.
  • Analyzes how the development of autonomous cars will impact employment and the economy.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

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