Industrial enterprise management, Manufacturing Processes and Procedures

R&D | Apple employees steal unmanned vehicles to develop secrets and are arrested before returning to China

A former Apple engineer, Zhang, faced criminal charges of being accused of stealing Apple’s trade secrets in self-driving car projects, facing up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. precision metal fab

On July 11, according to foreign media reports, a former Apple engineer Zhang (English name shows Zhang XiaoLang) faces criminal proceedings for accused of stealing Apple’s trade secrets in self-driving car projects, facing up to 10 years. Imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. According to the relevant litigation documents, Apple has 5,000 employees related to the self-driving car project, of which 2,700 are core members of the project.

In December 2015, Apple hired Zhang to participate in the development of hardware and software related to the self-driving car project in a criminal lawsuit filed in the federal court in Santa Clara, California. It was accused of downloading documents containing project-specific information before leaving Apple. precision metal fab

When hired by Apple, Zhang signed an intellectual property agreement and participated in mandatory confidential training for Apple. However, it violated Apple’s rules during the paternity leave. According to the lawsuit, during Zhang’s vacation, Apple’s surveillance video saw Zhang returning to Apple Park at 9 pm on Saturday, violating company regulations, leaving with a computer keyboard, cable and a large box.

During the paternity leave, Zhang returned home. After the holiday, Zhang told Apple that he was about to leave and joined Xiaopeng Automobile, headquartered in Guangzhou, China. At the end of June, Zhang accepted the FBI question and admitted that he had stolen relevant information; July 7 Zhang was arrested while trying to leave the United States to go to China. precision metal fab

Apple’s digital forensics team found that at least 60% of the data that Zhang downloaded and transferred to his wife’s computer was “problematic,” after which Apple passed all the evidence to the FBI. The FBI stated in court documents that the information was “essentially technical, including engineering schematics, technical reference manuals, and technical reports.”

Interestingly, the lawsuit also revealed Apple’s security agreement. In order to access sensitive projects like the self-driving car project Titan, employees must log into Apple’s virtual private network and must be authorized to “disclose information”. This status can only be granted to project visitors if another employee has access to the project, and Apple’s administrator will review all requests. About 5,000 Apple employees have access to data related to Apple’s automated driving program, and the data obtained by Zhang has further narrowed this range to approximately 2,700 “core employees”. precision metal fab

The indictment states: “Although Apple has issued a general statement to the media about the development of autonomous vehicles, Apple’s details of the development of the project are strictly confidential and have never been publicly disclosed.”

According to the indictment, Zhang’s role at Apple is to design and test boards that analyze sensor data. He admitted to Apple and the FBI that he passed the company’s data to his personal computer. precision metal fab

A few years ago, reports about Apple’s auto-driving car project began to surface. Apple has licensed a test for self-driving cars in California and recently hired an executive from Waymo, the autonomous auto-driving car division of Alphabet.

According to the indictment, Zhang faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Apple did not respond to the request immediately. precision metal fab

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