A co-founder of Otto, the self-driving trucking company acquired by Uber in 2016, has left the company according to CNBC. Lior Ron co-founded Otto (née Ottomotto) with Anthony Levandowski in 2016 shortly before it was acquired by Uber, a move that was at the center of the recent Waymo v. Uber trial. Ron has served as the head of Uber Freight, the company’s trucking arm, since the acquisition. A source familiar with the situation confirmed Ron’s departure to The Verge.
Uber declined to comment on the specifics of Ron’s departure. “We remain fully invested in and excited about the future of Uber Freight,” a spokesperson said via email. “We believe it will continue to grow as we use our network and technology to transform the trucking industry.”
Ron left a position at Google in 2016 to found Otto with Levandowski. He was not as central to the Waymo v. Uber trial as his co-founder, but he did come up a few times. A due diligence report performed by security firm Stroz Friedberg that turned up in the trial showed that Ron searched “how to secretly delete files mac” one day before he left Google. A redaction mistake in another filing revealed that Google had pursued an arbitration demand against Ron alleging that he (and Levandowski) improperly poached employees to Otto.
The news of Ron’s departure comes less than two weeks after one of Uber’s self-driving test cars killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. The company stopped all testing of its self-driving technology after the crash and decided not to renew its test permits in California. Uber was also officially suspended by the governor of Arizona from testing earlier this week. It was discovered by The Guardian today that the company secretly operated its self-driving tests in Arizona months before the program was made public.