Tesla Motors Inc. is taking strict action against the director of its Autopilot system. The well-known automobile company has accused the former director along with the main head behind Google’s self-driving cars for improper recruitment. Under this accusation, the two individuals were apparently recruiting engineers of Tesla in order to form their own autonomous-car startup. Therefore, Tesla sues both of them in a formal lawsuit filed on Thursday. The Tesla lawsuit was filed in the California state court in Santa Clara. This might be a controversy for the autonomous car industry as it is moving towards its progress.
This lawsuit accuses Sterling Anderson, who was the former director of Tesla’s Autopilot program. This accusation is in context with violation of his employment contract as he tried to recruit the company’s engineers for his personal benefit. He was trying to recruit dozens of engineers for his independent venture and also stole hundreds of gigabytes of confidential information of the company. He formed his own independent autonomous car startup while he was still working for Tesla Motors. The independent venture Aurora is in collaboration with Chris Urmson. Urmson earlier was the chief technology officer of Google’s self-driving project. He was also a part of the illegal activities carried out at Tesla.
What led to the Tesla lawsuit
In the Tesla lawsuit, the company stated that it was necessary to take strict action against Anderson as he was abusing his position of trust at the company. Not only this, he repeatedly violated his non-solicit agreement in a deliberate manner. Anderson misused the company’s confidential and proprietary information to use for a competing venture in the same field. In answer to this, Anderson released a statement claiming Tesla’s lawsuit meritless and a result of unhealthy fear of competition. The statement also said that the lawsuit is an abuse of the legal system to stifle the competitor and destroy the personal reputations. The startup Aurora will disprove these false allegations in court and come out clean.
In order to avoid the prohibition of contract by Anderson, he handed over a list of potential employees from Tesla Motors to Urmson. According to the allegations, Anderson mostly worked behind-the-scenes to avoid breaching the contract in a direct manner. He was boasting to an engineer that Aurora’s technology will be more expansive than Tesla. Anderson attracted scrutiny when he used an official laptop at Urmson’s house for a document titled ‘Recruiting targets’. The Tesla lawsuit states that close to his resignation date, Anderson cleared information from a company-based iPhone. This was to remove traces of the phone calls and text messages he sent to fellow employees for soliciting them.