Well, self-driving technology sure is inducing many employees to take up arms against their parent companies — if creating a company with the potential to rival the patent could be called taking up arms that is. Tesla appears to have settled a lawsuit it filed against Sterling Anderson, a former employee and a past director of the Autopilot program. Apparently, the lawsuit involves a settlement that clears Aurora and Anderson of any wrongdoing.
However, this clearance comes at a price and Aurora will be paying Tesla a one time fee of $100,000. What’s more, the company has agreed not to hire anyone away from Tesla. This includes both full-time employees or contractors, and comes in response to allegations that Aurora was poaching employees away from Tesla. This clause will last until at least next February.
Anderson is a former Tesla employee and he was also a key leader of Tesla’s semi-automated highway driving features. However, he later left the company and teamed up with former Google self-driving car project CTO Chris Urmson, to find Aurora. In a situation strangely reminiscent of what has been happening with Waymo and Uber, Tesla filed a lawsuit against Aurora, blaming it of all the usual things — poaching employees, tech rightss and so on.
The companies have also agreed to let a third party perform audits on Tesla’s behalf so as to confirm that no information right belonging to Tesla is found to be in possession of Aurora or its employees.
In a blog post, Anderson said:
We started Aurora to accelerate the industry. Frivolous lawsuits only slow it down. Today, less than three months after filing (and before we were permitted to file a response) Tesla has withdrawn their claims, without damages, without attorney’s fees, and without any finding of wrongdoing. We have even agreed to reimburse the cost of a future audit to demonstrate the integrity of Aurora’s intellectual property.
He also said that the company remained committed to its goal of propagating self-driving vehicles to the masses.