Apple Car engineer flees to China, reportedly after selling self-driving secrets

Apple Car
(Image credit: John Mauriello)

The Apple Car project is one that pops up in the news every once in a while and it's back again, but this time because one of Apple's software engineers is in quite a lot of trouble.

That engineer is called Weibao Wang and they apparently worked as an engineer from 2016 to 2018 before they had to flee to China amid an investigation into the raft of Apple data they allegedly stole from Apple.

The theft apparently involved large quantities of stolen, confidential, and proprietary data that was reportedly taken from Apple.

Six counts

CNBC reports that Wang "has been charged with six separate counts involving the theft or attempted theft of Apple’s 'entire autonomy source code,' tracking systems, behavior planning for autonomous systems, and descriptions of the hardware that was behind the systems."

Want was reportedly at Apple for a year before he took a job with an unnamed Chinese company that was working on its own autonomous driving technology. It's that company that was the recipient of the data stolen from Apple.

It isn't clear whether Wang will ever face the alleged crimes, though. After law enforcement raided his California home in June 2018 he apparently fled to China. If he returns, whether of his own free will or otherwise, he faces up to 10 years in prison for each count.

As for the Apple Car project, that's one that continues to go through a multitude of engineers and managers according to various reports over the years. Nobody seems to really know whether Apple will ever ship a car of its own or strike a partnership with a more traditional carmaker.

For now, Apple will turn its attention to another long-running project. The Reality Pro headset is expected to be announced during the WWDC23 event on June 5 along with the long-rumored 15-inch MacBook Air.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.