Chinese worker allegedly caught stealing Apple self-driving car secrets

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Project Titan
Apple is invested heavily in self-driving tech.
Photo: Idiggapple/Twitter

Another alleged Chinese spy has been caught apparently trying to steal secrets from Apple’s mysterious self-driving car project.

The FBI reportedly arrested a Chinese national working for Apple the day before he planned to fly back to China with thousands of files on his laptop, including Apple’s intellectual property. He was reportedly planning to take all the info to a Chinese electric car manufacturer.

This is the second time in six months that a Chinese worker has been caught allegedly trying to steal Apple’s self-driving car tech. Apple’s self-driving car project has been on a bumpy road ever since the company gave it the green light in 2015. A couple of restarts and staff reductions have led some analysts to believe Apple’s car might never hit the streets. But apparently, the company has a ton of cool tech its competitors are eager to steal.

FBI busts alleged Chinese spy

Apple reportedly started investigating Jizhong Chen after another employee saw the engineer taking photos in a sensitive workspace. According to the report from NBC Bay Area, Apple’s security team found thousands of confidential files — including manuals, schematics and diagrams — on his computer. They also found hundreds of photos taken inside Apple’s offices.

Chen allegedly applied for a job at Chinese autonomous car company XMotors. The company’s first electric SUV, the Xpeng G3, looks a lot like Tesla’s Model 3. XMotors reaches out to Cult of Mac and clarified that they have never received a job application from Chen, so it’s unclear who he planned to give Apple’s intellectual property to

Apple released the following statement this week about the investigation:

“Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our IP very seriously. We are working with authorities on this matter and are referring all questions to the FBI.”

Cupertino’s secretive car project made headlines last week as well, when Apple reportedly removed more than 200 employees from Project Titan. The company shifted some of the employees to other machine learning projects. Apple says it continues pursuing autonomous vehicle technology, which CEO Tim Cook once called the “mother of all AI problems.”