Ex-Apple employee pleads guilty to stealing autonomous car trade secrets

Zhang could be facing ten years behind bars alongside a $250,000 USD ($323,542 CAD) fine

After pleading not guilty to stealing Apple’s Project Titan trade secrets back in 2018, former Apple engineer Xiaolang Zhang has now admitted to the theft and could be looking at ten years behind bars alongside a $250,000 USD ($323,542 CAD) fine, as reported by CNBC News.

Zhang, at the time, took parental leave at Apple after downloading blueprints for Project Titan and visited China, and when his parental leave was about to end, he informed the Cupertino, California-based company that he wouldn’t be returning.

Zhang subsequently moved to China and joined the Chinese autonomous car technology company XMotors, following which, Apple’s Product Security Team started an investigation. Zhang’s network activity and the Apple devices he surrendered were investigated.

In due course, it was found that Zhang had downloaded multiple files from Apple’s internal servers before going on parental leave, which included a “25-page document with engineering schematics of a circuit board for an autonomous vehicle,” alongside information about the vehicle prototype and testing hardware.

Now, as part of a plea agreement, Zhang has pleaded guilty to the charges. However, the plea agreement is currently under seal, with the sentencing scheduled for some time in November.

Back in 2019, Tesla also sued one of its former employees, Cao Guangzhi, for downloading and sharing data related to the company’s Autopilot feature. Guangzhi also shared the stolen information with XMotors.

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Source: CNBC News