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Tesla sues former Autopilot director for stealing ‘hundreds of gigabytes’ of top-secret information

Tesla Autopilot Director

Tesla earlier today filed a lawsuit against Sterling Anderson, the former head of the company’s Autopilot program. Anderson left Tesla a while back in order to form a new self-driving car start-up called Aurora with Chris Urmson, the former CTO of Google’s self-driving program.

The suit alleges that Anderson, before leaving the company, absconded with hundreds of gigabytes of proprietary and technical information. Tesla further claims that Anderson attempted to convince a number of Tesla engineers to quit and join him at Aurora. Interestingly enough, the lawsuit claims that both Urmson and Anderson, in an effort not to blatantly break their respective NDAs, identified potential recruits from within their own company but had the other reach out to them with offers of employment.

The lawsuit, which contains quite a few sensational allegations, reads in part:

Anderson also downloaded hundreds of gigabytes of of Tesla confidential and proprietary information to his personal Toshiba hard drive. Upon the end of his employment, Anderson was required to return all originals and copies fo all documents and other company property in his possession. Anderson returned his company-issued laptop, but not the “backups” he had regularly created, which contain hundreds of gigabytes of data, including some of Tesla’s most competitively sensitive information.

Were that not enough, Anderson then doctored the laptop, manually hacking the timestamps on files and secure-erasing others, all in an attempt to conceal his misdeeds. As for the company-issued iPhone that contained perhaps the most damning evidence of Anderson’s unlawful solicitation of Tesla employees – he wiped that altogether.

Responding to said allegations, Aurora issued the following statement to a few publications: “Tesla’s meritless lawsuit 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.”

Incidentally, with Anderson out of the picture at Tesla, the company last week announced the hiring of Chris Lattner who will assume the role of Tesla’s VP of Autopilot Software.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

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