The arrest of a former Apple engineer for espionage revealed the size of the Apple project for developing autonomous cars. According to CNBC 5,000 employees are working on the project, which accounts for almost four percent of the total Apple force of 135,000.
It all started with the former Apple engineer Xiaolang Zhang downloading documents from his company issued devices on private devices during is paternity leave. After announcing that he is leaving Apple, he gave contradictory reasons for why he is leaving. One was that he is going to take care of his ill mother in China, the other that he starts with XMotors. XMotors is a startup spun off by Alibaba and funded with 350 million dollars developing self-driving and electric cars. Zhang was then caught at the San Jose airport by federal agents when trying to leave the country. He faces now – if found guilty – up to 10 years of federal prison and a fine of 250,000 dollars.
2,700 Apple employees are forming the core team and work on the project full time. We already reported in the past about Apple’s ambitions and those reports seem to be confirmed. And I guess it’s not just autonomous vehicle development, but more.
This article has also been published in German.