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Autonomous VehiclesNewsTrucking

Autonomous vehicle whiz kid Levandowski pleads guilty to federal charges

Anthony Levandowski, considered a pioneer in the development of autonomous transportation technology, has pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in California, according to multiple press reports.

Lewandowski pleaded guilty to stealing documents and other technology information from Google, which he had joined after his own startup had been acquired. He then took that information and created Otto, which he then sold to Uber for $700 million. He was fired from Uber when the concerns grew that he had stolen the documents from Google.

According to a report in The Washington Post about the plea, Lewandowski will plead guilty to one of the 33 charges he was facing, with prosecutors dropping the other charges. The one guilty plea could carry with it a prison term of 24 to 30 months, according to media reports. Those reports also said he had agreed to pay Waymo, the autonomous driving project of Google, more than $750,000 in restitution.

Just two weeks ago, he was ordered by a court to pay Google $179 million in restitution. He then declared for bankruptcy protection. 

The Post quoted an email that Miles Ehrlich, Lewandowski’s attorney, mailed to the publication. “Mr. Levandowski accepts responsibility and is looking forward to resolving this matter. “Mr. Levandowski is a young man with enormous talents and much to contribute to the fast-moving world of [artificial intelligence] and [automated vehicles] and we hope that this plea will allow him to move on with his life and focus his energies where they matter most.”

Lewandowski’s latest venture is a company called Pronto. Last year, it rolled out a driver-assist technology called Copilot, which FreightWaves used on a test drive. 

Google sued Uber over the theft, resulting in a payment of $244 million from Uber to Google in a February 2018 settlement. 

“But the settlement didn’t end Levandowski’s problems,” according to the Post’s account. “During the civil dispute, Levandowski exercised his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination when he refused to turn over documents in the case. That prompted the judge in that case to recommend federal prosecutors for the Northern District of California to open an investigation into the matter.”

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.

3 Comments

  1. Why would one call him a “whiz” kid ???

    He’s a thief and he got caught ! I wouldn’t call that a clever person .

    Furthermore :

    Quote :
    “According to a report in The Washington Post about the plea, Lewandowski will plead guilty to one of the 33 charges he was facing, with prosecutors dropping the other charges.”
    End quote.

    So they offered him a deal if he pleaded guilty to at least one charge/count , and if he did , they would drop the rest of the charges and it would reduce his sentence while they made an easy prosecution score .

    Had he been a “whiz” kid he wouldn’t have stole , or at least not got caught for the theft .

    Now he has a criminal record , may get time , and went bust . Talk about being a “whiz” , LOL !

    In my humble opinion ……….

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