In a sensational claim, Elon Musk has accused Tesla’s Chinese competitor Xpeng of stealing its old source codes while chatting with one of his followers on Twitter. The Tesla co-founder went on to say that Xpeng had copied Apple’s code too.
On being asked why Xpeng was using LiDAR technology, which is a big deviation from copying Tesla, Musk replied: “They have an old version of our software & don’t have our NN inference computer.” He continued, “They stole Apple’s code too.”
They have an old version of our software & don’t have our NN inference computer
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2020
Tesla had in 2019 sued its former engineer, Guangzhi Cao, who admitted that he uploaded zip files containing Autopilot source code to his personal iCloud account in late 2018 while still working for the company.
The company had sued Cao for stealing trade secrets related to Autopilot — Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system — and bringing them to Chinese EV startup Xpeng Motors, the electric car company, backed by tech giant Alibaba. Cao had denied the allegation.
At the time, Tesla had also subpoenaed documents from Apple, in a case in which a former employee of the tech company working on a secretive autonomous car project was charged with stealing trade secrets by the FBI and providing them to Xpeng.
On 20 November 2020, the China-based Xpeng announced that it was going ahead with adding LiDAR sensors to its cars to help improve the company’s autonomous driving efforts. LiDAR (light detection and ranging) is a radar technology that helps the autonomous cars avoid a collision, which uses light instead of radio waves, offering higher precision in certain environments. The CEO of Xpeng, He Xiaopeng, has called LiDAR technology as “a breakthrough in popularizing autonomous driving”.
However, the electric car maker Tesla had abandoned the idea of equipping its high-end cars with the LiDAR technology, and believed it was too expensive. Elon Musk called the addition of LiDAR as being a “a fool’s errand.” Musk opposed the installation of such a system in Tesla cars due to their high cost, but he did not question the capabilities of LiDAR.
Musk said that it was his other company, SpaceX, which developed and continues to use LiDAR for Dragon docking with the International Space Station. He, however, said the technology was pointless for self-driving. “If you’re going to do active photon generation, use an occlusion penetrating wavelength, like precision radar at ~4mm,” he added.
SpaceX made history this year in the world of privately funded space travel with its Dragon and Crew Dragon spacecraft docking with the International Space Station.
Elon Musk on Monday overtook Bill Gates to become the world’s second-richest person. According to Bloomberg, the 49-year-old entrepreneur’s net worth soared $7.2 billion to $127.9 billion, driven by yet another surge in Tesla’s share price.
“Musk has added $100.3 billion to his net worth this year, the most of anyone on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 richest people. In January, he ranked 35th,” the business portal claimed.