It’s no secret that ride-hailing company Uber has been concerned about its competitors in the race to build autonomous cars. But text messages released as part of Uber’s ongoing litigation with Google’s self-driving car project, Waymo, show the company’s top execs toyed with the idea of surreptitiously going after the likes of Tesla.
The text messages were spotted by Mark Harris over at IEEE Spectrum, and they highlight intimate conversations between Anthony Levandowski, the former Uber self-driving exec at the heart of the Waymo lawsuit, and Travis Kalanick, the former Uber CEO.
The pair, safe to say, had an obsession with Tesla. Here’s a couple examples from Levandowski, about Tesla founder Elon Musk, that were cited by Spectrum:
9/14/2016 Levandowski: Tesla crash in January … implies Elon is lying about millions of miles without incident. We should have LDP on Tesla just to catch all the crashes that are going on.
9/22/2016: We’ve got to start calling Elon on his shit. I’m not on social media but let’s start “faketesla” and start give physics lessons about stupid shit Elon says like [saying his cars don’t need lidar]
Whether @FakeTesla ever got off the ground, who knows. The account was suspended as of today. Another string shows Levandowski suggesting that Musk is going to blame The Regulations if, and when, fully-autonomous cars aren’t on the road in the near-future:
10/20/2016 Kalanick: What do you think chances are he has Level 5 in 20% of a given city?
10/20/2016 Levandowski: For easy city
10/20/2016 Levandowski: He’s trippin’ but might/will blame regulatory as to why it’s not available
Recode has a nice summary of the back-and-forth chatter about Tesla between these two. But, man, can you imagine two billionaires orchestrating a @FakeTesla account just to get back at Musk? I suppose, with Uber, it’s not so hard.