“The criminal complaint filed Monday against an ex-Apple Inc employee for allegedly stealing self-driving car trade secrets from the Cupertino company provides a handful of new details about its work on the technology, experts said,” Stephen Nellis reports for Reuters. “The charges filed in U.S. federal court alleged that a former employee, Xiaolang Zhang, disclosed intentions to work for a Chinese electric car startup and booked a last-minute flight to China after downloading the plan for a circuit board for a self-driving car.”
“The complaint also for the first time gave an official account of some details of the self-driving car program. About 5,000 employees were authorized to access information about the program, including about 2,700 ‘core’ employees with access to secret databases,” Nellis reports. “It also said Zhang was shown a ‘proprietary chip’ by his co-workers and designed circuit boards to analyze sensor data, suggesting Apple may be designing its own chips for self-driving systems and working on technologies such as ‘sensor fusion,’ in which data from multiple sensors is combined to make it more accurate.”
“The technical detail in the complaint ‘would only have been possible if Apple complied’ with investigators, said Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant professor of law at the University of South Carolina who has studied issues around autonomous vehicles,” Nellis reports. “Given the fact that even more technical details could come out at trial, ‘that’s striking in its own right’ and shows the importance Apple places on protecting its technology, he said.”
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MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s black hole has begun to leak some light, highlighting the seriousness with which Apple is making these charges.
China’s XMotors claims employee did not pass along Apple autonomous driving trade secrets – July 11, 2018
Former Apple employee charged with criminal theft of autonomous vehicle secrets – July 10, 2018