A former engineer at Apple, Xiaolang Zhang, finds himself on the wrong side of the law, having been handed a six-month prison sentence for his role in pilfering secrets from the tech giant’s vaults. This unfolds as Zhang admits to swiping details on the development of Apple’s self-driving vehicle project, an endeavor that people have been talking about for years.
Xiaolang Zhang’s Conviction
Zhang’s journey from trusted employee to convicted felon began with his arrest at San Jose International Airport in 2018, moments before he could escape to China. Initially, he fought the charges, pleading not guilty. However, in a dramatic turn of events in 2022, Zhang confessed to the theft of trade secrets, leading to his current predicament. Beyond his prison term, Zhang faces a three-year leash of supervised release and a hefty restitution bill of $146,984.
Involvement in Project Titan
His tenure at Apple was marked by his involvement in Project Titan, Apple’s mysterious and much-discussed foray into autonomous vehicles. According to allegations, Zhang’s acts of espionage included transferring a detailed 25-page document with engineering blueprints to personal devices and pilfering hardware, illustrating a breach of trust as profound as it was audacious.
Zhang’s Resignation and Investigation
Following a paternity leave and a trip to China, Zhang resigned, revealing plans to join XPeng Motors, a move that raised eyebrows given the company’s competing interests in autonomous driving. This revelation set off alarm bells, leading to an investigation that caught Zhang red-handed, engaging in activities that betrayed confidence.