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Criminal case sheds light on Apple self-driving car technology

12 July 2018

Elon Musk and Tesla were at their peak popularity at the time and such news sold well. It will also being integrated into the Messages app, with support for Animoji.Here: Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, speaks about group FaceTime.

Now, matters related to the Apple Car have taken another interesting turn. Take a look below for more details.

A former Apple employee was arrested at the airport last week as he allegedly sought to board a flight to China with secret plans for the company's self-driving cars.

Apple has been chiseling away at various angles on the self-driving problem for a few years now.

Zhang was hired in 2015 to work on Apple's self-driving vehicle project designing and testing circuit boards that would analyze sensor data. Due to Apple's strict and complicated internal secrecy, he was one of the 2700 employees who had access to highly confidential information about the project. Zhang Xiaolang, once a hardware engineer for Apple's driverless auto development team, told the company in April that he was leaving to go back to China and work at Xiaopeng Motors or XMotors, which is also developing autonomous vehicles.

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.

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According to the complaint, Zhang worked on designing and testing circuit boards to analyze sensor data for the self-driving vehicle project.

Zhang voluntarily left Apple on May 5.

That analysis revealed that Zhang's network activity "increased exponentially" near the time he chose to leave the company, compared to the two years prior. When interview by Federal Bureau of Investigation in late June, Zhang admitted that he stole the information as a result of which he was arrested on July 7 as he was preparing to leave for China. It was later revealed that at least 60% of all the downloaded data was questionable. He took paternity leave throughout April, during which he traveled to China.

Authorities also say Zhang "admitted to removing items" from Apple's campus, including "two circuit boards and a Linux server from the hardware lab". Apple hasn't said how or if it will eventually release its technology to consumers. Zhang appeared in court on Monday, but he did not enter a plea.

The fact that Apple provided this information to authorities as part of the complaint indicates that further technological details could come to light in court if the case goes ahead, marking a change in attitude for the tech giant which previously fought fiercely to keep details of its self-driving cars under wraps. He is facing a recommended 10 years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a $100 special assessment, and three years of supervised release.

Criminal case sheds light on Apple self-driving car technology