Former Apple engineer pleads guilty to stealing self-driving vehicle secrets and techniques, faces decade in prison

Recap: You would possibly keep in mind the title Xiaolang Zhang from just a few years in the past. He’s the previous Apple engineer charged with stealing commerce secrets and techniques throughout his time on the firm’s self-driving automotive division between 2015 and 2018. After initially denying the claims, Zhang has now pleaded guilty to the costs and faces ten years in prison for his crimes.

Back in 2018, Federal brokers stopped Zhang at San Jose International Airport as he departed for Beijing utilizing a ticket purchased on the “last second.” He was accused of transferring 24GB of Apple’s information onto his spouse’s laptop computer by way of AirDrop. The information included a 25-page doc containing engineering schematics of a circuit board, together with technical manuals and PDFs relating to the corporate’s self-driving vehicle prototype.

Zhang was additionally caught on digital camera eradicating {hardware} from Apple’s autonomous vehicle improvement lab. It was later recognized as circuit boards and a Linux server.

Zhang had advised his Apple bosses in 2018 that he was leaving the agency and transferring to China to work for Chinese EV startup Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology, aka Xpeng. He revealed his plans after coming back from paternity go away, throughout which period he traveled to China.

CNBC writes that Zhang has now pleaded guilty to the one theft of commerce secrets and techniques depend in San Jose federal courtroom. The felony cost carries a most of up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 nice. His sentencing is due to happen in November.

This is not the one case of an Apple worker stealing commerce secrets and techniques associated to its autonomous automotive undertaking. Jizhong Chen was accused of the identical crime in 2019. He was additionally planning to journey to China and is represented by the identical lawyer utilized by Zhang. A date for that trial has not been set.

Apple’s self-driving automotive ambitions have been round since 2014 when Tim Cook reportedly authorized undertaking Titan. At one level, it appeared as if Apple had given up on the automotive undertaking and was as an alternative focusing solely on growing autonomous vehicle software program for different automakers, however a report from final yr claims Apple’s EV may arrive as quickly as 2025.

Image courtesy of Vanarama

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