(ANSA) – MILAN, AUG 24 – Xiaolang Zhang pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets from Apple, where he worked on a self-driving car project from 2015 to 2018. As CNBC reported, when he quit his job at Apple, Zhang moved to Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology, a Chinese electric vehicle startup also known as XPeng. During an investigation, Apple found that the man transferred approximately 24GB of “highly problematic” data to his wife’s laptop as well as taken circuit boards and a server from the company’s autonomous vehicle lab. There has been a lot of talk in recent years about Project Titan, Apple’s self-driving car initiative, which was never built. Just recently, the Apple would have hired Luigi Taraborrelli to push the project whose timing, according to rumors, points to 2025.
Taraborrelli spent more than twenty years in Lamborghini as head of the research and development department on the chassis and driving dynamics of the new models of the Italian brand.
Meanwhile, the trial that will lead to the sentence for Zhang will be held on November 14th. Under US law, the theft of trade secrets carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. The former engineer isn’t the only person accused of stealing car trade secrets from Apple or attempting to transfer secret materials to startup XPeng. In 2019, another former employee allegedly tried to sell manuals, schematics, diagrams and photographs of Apple’s automotive project in China. The related investigation is still ongoing. (HANDLE).