Tesla sued the former head of its Autopilot system Sterling Anderson, accusing the executive attempted to recruit Tesla engineers for his new venture with the ex-head of Google’s self-driving program despite he was still working at the electric auto company.
Tesla Motors stated that Sterling Anderson, who till early January was the non-technical program manager of Tesla’s Auto-pilot semi-autonomous driving system, made employment deals to at least a dozens of his associates at Tesla.
Anderson’s recruiting attempts for a new start-up with Chris Urmson – who shepherded Alphabet’s self-driving task for seven and a half years before leaving in August – occurred regardless of a non-soliciting agreement in his contract, Tesla stated.
The lawsuit, submitted in Superior Court of California for Santa Clara County, highlights the competitive landscape in Silicon Valley’s automobile sector, where Tesla, developed automakers and unknown start-ups are all fighting to be first to bring self-driving to the masses.
Tesla has been at the lead of innovation. Its high-profile Autopilot permits cars to guide and steer in their lanes without hands on the wheel in particular scenarios.
Telsa, mentioning what it called a “get-rich-quick environment” in the sector, noted in the complaint the latest acquisition by General Motors of Cruise Automation in July for nearly $1 billion, recommending Anderson and Urmson sought the same goal with their new Silicon Valley company, Aurora Innovation.
Urmson and Aurora Innovation are likewise called as co-defendants in the lawsuit, which alleges violation of contract and other civil claims. Tesla is looking for injunctive relief and undefined damages.
Aurora stated the lawsuit was without benefit and “reveals both a startling paranoia and an unhealthy fear of competition.”
“This abuse of the legal system is a malicious attempt to stifle a competitor and destroy personal reputations. Aurora looks forward to disproving these false allegations in court and to building a successful self-driving business,” Aurora stated.
The lawsuit accuses that Anderson also downloaded some of Tesla’s most competitively sensitive data to his laptop, then deleted and doctored files and wiped his iPhone of information “in an attempt to conceal his misdeeds.”
Tesla stated Anderson was terminated on January 4.