Engineer Charged With Stealing Apple's Self-Driving Car Secrets

Former Apple employee faces up to 10 years in prison, $250K fine for stealing Project Titan trade secrets

Apple, after going through Zhang's network activity and devices that he gave back to the company while leaving, found that he accessed confidential information that included prototypes as well.

A statement Wednesday from XMotors said there was no indication that Zhang communicated sensitive information from Apple, the Reuters news agency reported.

According to the complaint, Zhang was shown a "proprietary chip" by employees and was working on circuit boards that could have been part of a sensor fusion project, which involves using multiple sensors to make the cars more accurate in their decisions while in self-driving mode. When he returned at the end of the month, he told his supervisor at Apple that he was resigning so he could move back to China to be with his mother, who was in poor health, according to the complaint.

"Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our intellectual property very seriously", company spokesman Tom Neumayr said in an email.

Zhang Xiaolang was accused by USA prosecutors of downloading files containing proprietary information as he prepared to leave the iPhone maker in April and start work for Guangzhou-based Xiaopeng Motors. according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court in San Jose, California.

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Zhang admitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he downloaded Apple driverless technology files to his wife's laptop to have continued access to them, according to the complaint.

When confronted with the theft, Zhang reportedly told Apple he took the equipment because he wanted to transfer to a new position at the company and thought the it would prove useful. "We're working with authorities on this matter and will do everything possible to make sure this individual and other individuals involved are held accountable for their actions".

He is also accused of taking circuit boards and a computer server from Apple's self-driving vehicle hardware lab. Sixty percent of the data on the laptop was found to be "highly problematic", according to Apple's forensic team. After he informed his supervisor of the decision to leave Apple, the latter proceeded to call Apple's security officials.

On July 7, authorities learned Zhang had bought "a last-minute round-trip airline ticket" for himself to Beijing, with the final destination of Hangzhou, China. It will also being integrated into the Messages app, with support for Animoji.Here: Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, speaks about group FaceTime. He surrendered at the airport without incident. According to Reuters, Zhang's arraignment in the United States is set for July 27 and he has yet to enter a plea. If those charges lead to a ruling against Zhang, he could face up to 10 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

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