Ex-Apple engineer sentenced to six months in prison for stealing self-driving car tech

Xiaolang Zhang, former Apple employee admitted his guilt The person who stole information about the company’s development of a driverless vehicle was released on probation for 3 years after serving 120 days in prison. Zhang was arrested in 2018 at San Jose International Airport while preparing to fly to China. He initially pleaded not guilty until he changed his tune in 2022 and admitted to stealing trade secrets. In addition to serving time behind bars, he must also pay $146,984 in restitution, according to a court document for the first sentencing. 9-5Mac. Zhang originally faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The former Apple employee worked as a hardware engineer for the company’s decade-long autonomous car initiative, codenamed Titan. According to Apple’s complaint, Zhang transferred a 25-page document containing engineering schematics of a circuit board for the company’s self-driving car to his wife’s laptop via AirDrop. He also stole circuit boards and a Linux server from the company’s development labs, as well as a copy of technical manuals describing Apple’s prototype.

After paternity leave and a trip to China, Zhang resigned from Apple and told the iPhone maker he would be working in the country for XPeng Motors. XPeng is also said to be working on autonomous driving technology, as Zhang was caught on CCTV taking hardware from Apple’s labs and transferring files to his wife’s computer. He is expected to surrender on June 19, after which he will be sent to a minimum security facility as close as possible to his home in San Jose, California.

Apple’s self-driving car has been in the works for a decade, but it still hasn’t released a product that consumers can buy. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman recently reported said that the company has changed its plans and is now developing a Tesla-like EV instead of a full-fledged autonomous car. The long-awaited Apple Car is now predicted to debut no sooner than 2028.

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