The former employee, Xiaolang Zhang, was accused of downloading internal Apple files relating to a motor car that was due to be unveiled in 2024. He currently faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is expected to take place in November.
Zhang was accused of uploading internal files, including “technical schematics of a circuit board for an autonomous vehicle.” According to a report, he was also accused of taking manuals and PDFs about Apple’s prototypes and prototype requirements.
During an internal investigation, Apple discovered that he had transferred around 24GB of sensitive data to his wife’s laptop via the file-sharing app, AirDrop. He also reportedly took circuit boards and a server from the company’s autonomous vehicle lab.
In 2018, Hang was arrested at San Jose airport while trying to fly to China.
He is not, however, the employee who faces charges for stealing sensitive information from the organization. Another former employee, Jizhong Chen, also faces charges of allegedly stealing trade secrets from Apple’s electric car division.
In recent years, Apple has been working on a self-driving car and has filed several new software and hardware patents related to the new technology. He has also worked on a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology, which allows cars to communicate with each other as well as connect to the Internet of Things (IoT).
In January last year, Hyundai Motor was reportedly in talks with Apple for self-driving technology. But the South Korean automaker later denied this, while Apple remains tight-lipped about its self-driving car technology.