Ex-Apple engineer pleads guilty to stealing Apple’s car secrets
Former Apple employee Xiolang Zhang has plead guilty to stealing trade secrets about Apple’s autonomous vehicle project last Monday in a federal court located in San Jose. Zhang was charged by the FBI in 2018 for allegedly stealing the secrets while preparing to work for Xiaopeng Motors, a Chinese electric vehicle startup. Zhang was arrested in the San Jose airport on July 7, 2018 while attempting to catch a flight to China. Zhang was hired in 2015 where he worked on hardware for the secretive autonomous vehicle project headed by Apple.
Apple accused Zhang of stealing trade secrets after discovering that he took paternity leave to travel to China with his family. When he arrived back in the US, he met with his supervisor to hand in his resignation, claiming that he wanted to move back to China to care for his mother. After Zhang told Apple his plans to work for Xiaopeng Motors, Apple cut off his network access. The company then launched an investigation that found Zhang had downloaded documents and information considered to be trade secrets from Apple databases. He had also took a circuit board and server from Apple’s car labs.