A former Apple engineer will serve a prison sentence after pleading guilty to stealing trade secrets related to the company's autonomous vehicle technology, also known as Project Titan.
Xiaolan Zhang was charged in 2018 following an FBI investigation. He had been working on Project Titan but took a leave of absence for childcare. When his leave ended, he informed Apple that he would not return and instead took up a new position at a Chinese startup focused on developing autonomous vehicles.
Apple conducted its own investigation into Zhang's departure, including checking activity on his Apple devices. The company discovered that Zhang had stolen multiple copies of files from projects he had been working on throughout his tenure at Apple, including blueprints for one of the autonomous vehicle systems.
While Zhang did not initially plead guilty when first charged in 2018, he eventually admitted guilt in 2022. A California judge sentenced the engineer to 120 days of imprisonment, followed by three years of probation. Additionally, he is required to pay a fine of $146,984.