Ex-Apple Engineer Arrested for Stealing Autonomous-Car Files

A former hardware engineer at Apple Inc. has been charged with stealing details about the company’s autonomous car project and attempting to flee with them to China.

Xiaolang Zhang was arrested last week in San Jose, Calif., as he prepared to board a plane to China. He told Apple in April he was moving back to China to work for Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology Co.(Xpeng Motors). The electric-car startup launched production of its first model, the G3 sporty crossover vehicle, in April.

Zhang admitted to the FBI that he downloaded files about Apple’s secretive self-driving-car technology to his wife’s laptop. The complaint against him says Apple grew suspicious because of his visits to his Apple office and increased network activity before he resigned.

Prosecutors say Zhang downloaded engineering drawings, technical manuals and other materials from several confidential databases.