A federal judge has ordered that Anthony Levandowski, a former Waymo employee whose autonomous driving startup was acquired by Uber last year, stop working on the ride-hailing company's self-driving car technology.

Why it matters: Barring Levandowski from working on LiDAR technology — which helps cars "see" so they can drive themselves— might not render him entirely useless to Uber, but it certainly makes the $680 million it paid to acquire his startup now seem like too much money.

If Levandowski, his co-founders and their LiDAR technology were the main assets Uber acquired, then it doesn't have much access to them anymore after this ruling, lest it prevails in trial later this year.

The ruling, stemming from Waymo's request for a preliminary injunction to halt Uber's work on self-driving cars, was issued on Thursday evening, but was under seal until now. Levandowski had recently recused himself from working on the technology, but the ruling makes this requirement official.

There's more: Uber is also ordered to return the 14,000 files Levandowski downloaded prior to leaving Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car unit, to his former employer by May 31. Uber also has to provide a complete timeline of its discussions with him about LiDAR. Levandowski has allegedly made this difficult for Uber by asserting his Fifth Amendment right, something the judge says it could remedy by threatening to fire him if he doesn't turn over the files.

Go deeper

10 mins ago - Economy & Business

Boeing research shows disinfectants kill coronavirus on airplanes

Electrostatic spraying of disinfectant. (Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines)

Boeing and researchers at the University of Arizona say their experiment with a live virus on an unoccupied airplane proves that the cleaning methods currently used by airlines are effective in destroying the virus that causes COVID-19.

Why it matters: Deep cleaning aircraft between flights is one of many tactics the airline industry is using to try to restore public confidence in flying during the pandemic. The researchers say their study proves there is virtually no risk of transmission from touching objects including armrests, tray tables, overhead bins or lavatory handles on a plane.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: Studies show drop in COVID death rate — The next wave is gaining steam — The overwhelming aftershocks of the pandemic.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.

Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a vote on Republicans' $500 billion targeted COVID-19 relief bill, a far less comprehensive package than the $1.8 trillion+ deal currently being negotiated between the Trump administration and House Democrats.

Why it matters: There's little appetite in the Senate for a stimulus bill with a price tag as large as what President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been calling for. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) "skinny" proposal was mostly seen as a political maneuver, as it had little chance of making it out of the Senate.

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