Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Technology | By Lionel Gonzales

Ex-Apple Employee Arrested At San Jose Airport Allegedly Had Trade Secrets

Ex-Apple Employee Arrested At San Jose Airport Allegedly Had Trade Secrets

Family members are also barred from learning about the vehicle project. Exactly two years back, the press started to get all hyped up on news that Apple might be developing autonomous vehicles. Elon Musk and Tesla were at their peak popularity at the time and such news sold well.

"Apple also goes to great lengths to communicate the importance of secrecy to its employees", the complaint adds.

Now, matters related to the Apple Car have taken another interesting turn.

While on campus, the complaint alleges, Zhang took circuit boards and a computer server from a self-driving auto hardware lab, and his Apple co-workers showed him a "proprietary chip". Take a look below for more details.

SAN JOSE -A former Apple employee has been charged in federal court with stealing trade secrets from the company, authorities said. The employee was allegedly trying to flee the country after having obtained confidential knowledge related to Apple's self-driving auto project also dubbed as the Apple vehicle. Records and closed-circuit TV footage also showed Zhang entering the autonomous vehicle software and hardware labs on April 28, documents state. 5,000 employees reportedly had access to the information that Zhang stole, with 2,700 of those listed as "core employees". Apple had 5000 employees working on the project at the time. After he took paternity leave he told Apple in April he was moving back to China to work at Xmotors.

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Xiaolang Zhang worked on Apple's driverless auto project but allegedly planned to move to Chinese autonomous vehicle start-up Xiaopeng Motors, the company says in court documents.

It also said Zhang was shown a "proprietary chip" by his co-workers and designed circuit boards to analyze sensor data, suggesting Apple may be designing its own chips for self-driving systems and working on technologies such as "sensor fusion", in which data from multiple sensors is combined to make it more accurate.

Zhang voluntarily left Apple on May 5. The California-based firm became suspicious after noticing his network activities and visits to his office increased.

Zhang appeared in court Monday and was remanded to custody, according to court documents. It was later revealed that at least 60% of all the downloaded data was questionable. In 2015, Apple executives approved a plan to build a self-driving, electric vehicle to take on Tesla Inc. and the Detroit auto industry. Zhang's arraignment is set for July 27th.

But the complaint also for the first time gave an official account of some details of the self-driving auto program. Zhang is facing federal charges of Theft of Trade Secrets, with recommended penalties of 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a $100 special assessment and three years of supervised release. We'll keep you updated on the latest.

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