Last year Tesla filed a lawsuit against a former employee who was involved in the development of the Autopilot. They accused the employee of having stolen the source code of the system to give to the company Xpeng, a manufacturer of Chinese origin that has aroused the interest of the industry in recent times thanks to exciting proposals such as the G3 SUV or the P7 sedan.
Tesla claimed that Guangzhi Cao, a former company worker, stole the source code and handed it over to the competition, as he was one of the firm’s forty employees with access to it. At the time, Tesla claimed that already in 2018, Cao started uploading full copies of the Autopilot source code to their iCloud account.
After accepting a position at Xpeng, Cao allegedly deleted 120,000 files from his work computer and disconnected his iCloud account. Furthermore, it was repeatedly hacked into Tesla’s secure networks to remove history from your browser. In this way, Xpeng could have had unlimited and illegal access to a technology that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and several years to develop. The former employee confessed to downloading part of the Autopilot source code, although he claimed to have removed it before leaving Tesla and never to have given it to Xpeng.
Xpeng, for its part, reported that it was not aware of any crime committed by Cao, claiming to respect intellectual property rights. The truth is that even though the Asian company promised to carry out an internal investigation to clarify the situation, the fact that the interface of its autonomous driving system was identical to that of the Autopilot triggered all the alarms.
Now Tesla has gone a step further, claiming that the same person could have recruited both Cao and a former Apple engineer who was charged with a similar crime at the time Xpeng obtained trade secrets. “The greater the similarity between the two cases, the less likely these similarities can be dismissed as mere coincidences, and the more likely they are the result of planning and coordination.”
However, in a chat that Cao had with a friend when the news of the arrest of the ex-Apple engineer was revealed, it can be seen that the then still Tesla worker claimed that the accused “had given a bad image of all the Chinese »And that« he was glad he had not gone to Xpeng.”
Xpeng has responded by hinting that Tesla’s statements are racist. At the same time, the North American company demands that its rival publish its source code and documents related to the hiring of Cao and the former Apple engineer. “Tesla’s latest lawsuits have crossed the line, seeking to rummage through our IP on its terms, and tarnishing our reputation along the way with misrepresentations and innuendo. Tesla’s attempt to involve two Chinese engineers is to sell speculation and stereotypes.”