Criminal case sheds light on Apple self-driving vehicle technology

Apple's had another leak and this time it's personal

Apple's had another leak and this time it's personal

He visited the company's autonomous vehicle software and hardware department. Elon Musk and Tesla were at their peak popularity at the time and such news sold well.

Now, matters related to the Apple Car have taken another interesting turn.

The FBI has charged him with stealing trade secrets. Take a look below for more details.

A former Apple Inc. engineer was arrested on charges of stealing driverless vehicle secrets for a Chinese startup after he passed through the security checkpoint at San Jose International Airport to board a flight to China.

While Apple has long kept its rumored project under wraps, the filing of a legal complaint following the fateful development has revealed a few key details about the self-driving auto program. He was hired in Apple back in December 2015 and worked on both software and hardware department in the particular category. Apple has kept that research and development a closely guarded secret, and authorities said Zhang was granted broad access to confidential internal databases. Apple has always been known to be working on some kind of autonomous vehicle project, but the number of employees seemingly assigned shows that it's not just casual research. April this year, he took a paternity leave but informed Apple he would be going back home to China to take care of his sick mother.

He told his supervisor that he planned to go to work for XMotors, a Chinese autonomous and electric vehicle company. Mr. Zhang admitted that he had downloaded data from Apple's networks to his wife's computer before leaving Apple.

Effective May 5, Zhang was "voluntarily terminated", and according to the complaint, said he is employed by XMotors at its Mountain View, Calif., office. When they searched the engineer's company-issued iPhones and a notebook, they discovered searches in confidential databases, with download activity increasing massively in the past two months. After being interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in late June, Zhang admitted to stealing the information and was arrested on July 7 for attempting to leave to China. He took paternity leave throughout April, during which he traveled to China. Zhang told agents he meant to get job at Xmotors, a startup working on electric and self-driving vehicles, and that he had placed 40GB of Apple's data onto his wife's laptop.

Finally, technical details form the complaint document suggest that Apple is working on "Sensor Fusion", a technology that allows a system to create accurate location mapping and situational awareness via combining data from different sensors. According to Reuters, Zhang's arraignment in the U.S. is set for July 27 and he has yet to enter a plea.

But the complaint also for the first time gave an official account of some details of the self-driving vehicle program.

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