Chinese spy allegedly caught stealing self-driving car secrets from Apple

By Buster Hein

The spy was supposedly trying to take the secrets to XMotors.
Photo: XMotors

Another Chinese spy has been caught 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 was set to fly back to China with thousands of files on his laptop that contained Apple’s intellectual property. He was reportedly planning to take all the info to one of Apple’s competitors in China.

This is the second time in six months that a Chinese spy has been caught trying to steal Apple’s self-driving car tech. Apple’s self-driving car project has been on a bumpy path 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 bust 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, Apple’s security team found thousands of confidential files, including manuals, schematics and diagrams on his computer. There were also hundreds of photos taken inside Apple’s offices.

Chen recently applied for a job China-based autonomous car company XMotors. The company’s first electric SUV, the Xpeng G3, looks a lot like Tesla’s Model 3, so it appears Apple’s not the only company they’re trying to lift ideas from. The following statement was released by Apple 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.”

Last week it was reported that Apple removed over 200 employees from its self-driving car project. Some of the employees were shifted to other machine learning projects. The company says it’s still pursuing autonomous vehicle technology and that it views it as the mother-of-all AI projects.