Economy

Tesla sues former employees for allegedly stealing data, Autopilot source code

Tesla sues former employees for allegedly stealing data, Autopilot source code

After prior leaks, Tesla made its employees to "renew their vows" a year ago, although it seems Mr. Musk and his company must strengthen the security protocols even further.

Zoox is working on self-driving auto technology that is expected to be used for autonomous shuttle service. This one was filed against a single former employee, Guangzhi Cao, who went to work for XMotors earlier this year.

Tesla filed a lawsuit against former Chinese employee Guangzhi Cao on Mar 21, claiming the engineer copied the source code for its autopilot technology before taking a job with Chinese self-driving vehicle startup XPeng in January.

Allegations that a second Silicon Valley giant was betrayed by one of its own workers bound for the same Chinese startup come amid a major United States crackdown on Chinese corporate espionage.

In the complaint, Tesla alleges the four former employees "absconded with select proprietary Tesla documents useful to their new employer" including trade secrets relating to manufacturing, warehousing, operations, and HR materials to recruit other Tesla employees, which was done "with the knowledge and support of Zoox".

"Tesla has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and more than five years developing Autopilot", the lawsuit reads. In 2017, the company took on Sterling Anderson, the former director of Tesla's Autopilot project, after he left the company and co-founded Aurora, a self-driving vehicle start-up.

More than 100 former Tesla employees now work for Foster City-based Zoox, according to LinkedIn.

More news: Volvo to introduce in-car monitoring system targeting drunk and distracted drivers

Zoox didn't respond immediately to requests for comment. Chief Strategy Officer Aicha Evans.

After accepting a job with Xiopeng, Tesla claims Cao deleted 120,000 files off his work computer and disconnected his personal iCloud account, and then "repeatedly logged into Tesla's secure networks" to clear his browser history before his last day with the company. The company claims that Cao moved 300,000 files and directories related to Autopilot, some of which were copies of Autopilot-related source code.

"The theft here was blatant and intentional", Tesla said in the filing.

Xiaopeng Motors, also known as XPeng, announced a partnership with chipmaker Nvidia at the annual GPU Technology Conference in San Jose this week-to jointly develop autonomous driving technology for use on roads in China.

The Guangzhou-based company's U.S. research arm, XMotors.ai, said in a statement Thursday that it "respects any third-party's intellectual property rights and confidential information".

XMotors said it has initiated an internal investigation but wasn't aware of any wrongdoing by Cao, who it described as a current employee. XMotors has by no means caused or attempted to cause Mr. Cao to misappropriate trade secrets, confidential and proprietary information of Tesla, whether such allegations by Tesla being true or not.


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