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14 Sep 2022
The Former Apple Engineer Pleaded Guilty to Stealing Secret Information on Autonomous Cars
Xiaolang Zhang was arrested at San Jose International Airport in 2018 while trying to catch a flight to China from the airport. He pleaded guilty to stealing hardware and schematics for Apple's autonomous car project.
He was accused of stealing circuit boards from Apple's secret development labs and a Linux server. Additionally, the Engineer allegedly transferred a 25-page document containing technical manuals and circuit board schematics for a self-driving vehicle prototype to his wife's laptop.
According to a court statement this week, Zhang has changed his plea to guilty. As a result, the sentencing for Zhang will occur on 14 November 2022, and the consequences include up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Zhang's resignation following paternity leave and a trip to China made Apple suspicious of him. Xpeng Motors, developing its self-driving technology, told Apple that Zhang was returning to China to take care of his mother and would work for them.
An investigation conducted by Apple following the infiltration of their system by the employee revealed the extent of his deeds after a CCTV video footage captured Zhang attempting to abscond with Apple's data and hardware.
Mark Gurman, who is notoriously informed on Apple's product plans, said the company is refocusing on building an autonomous electric vehicle for release in the mid-2025s.
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