UPDATE, 21 January 2021: Anthony Levandowski was issued an 11th-hour pardon overnight by outgoing US President Donald Trump.
The ex-Google and Uber engineer – sentenced to an 18-month prison sentence in 2020 after he pleaded guilty to stealing company secrets relating to autonomous vehicle development – was yet to spend his first night behind bars due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
With his criminal conviction expunged, he is no longer subject to imprisonment (or any other legal repercussions).
In an offical statement, the Trump administration argued Mr Levandowski had already "paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good.”
7 August 2020: Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer who pleaded guilty to stealing company secrets before joining Uber’s autonomous vehicle program, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
He was also ordered to pay more than $850,000 (approximately AU$1.17 million) in fines and reimbursement.
Levandowski entered into a plea deal in March of this year after declaring bankruptcy, and was sentenced earlier this week in San Francisco.
Last year CarAdvice reported that Levandowski had been indicted on 33 charges. Each charge related to specific files that were obtained improperly.
Above: a Waymo autonomous car undergoes testing
Otto was purchased later that year by Uber for roughly $600 million (approximately AU$886 million), who subsequently made Levandowski the head of its autonomous vehicle research division.
According to court documents filed with the San Francisco District Court, “the technology at the centre of this case is Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors.”
“LiDAR transmitters send out arrays of lasers into the surrounding environment, which then bounce back to receiving sensors.”
“The sensors then measure the return signals to determine the size, shape, and distance of surrounding objects. LiDAR sensors are mounted on self-driving vehicles to help with perception and mapping.”
US District Judge, William Alsup, said Levandowski could defer his prison sentence until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
Watch below as a Waymo autonomous vehicle makes its way through the streets Metro Phoenix, Arizona (360 degree interactive video).