In an unprecedented move, US-based electric vehicle maker Tesla has made a request to examine a competitor’s entire repository of autonomous-driving source code and senior executives' hard drives as part of a lawsuit against a former employee.

Cao served as head of perception at XMotors, though he has been on leave since the investigation began. Tesla alleges that Cao copied Autopilot source code during his time at Tesla, and that the software could have benefited Xpeng.

Now, one year after filing a suit against the Chinese engineer, Tesla is attempting to gain access to a vast array of Xpeng’s internal communications and proprietary code in a push to indict Cao. Court documents reviewed by TechNode reveal that Tesla is taking an extraordinarily aggressive approach to the dispute with its smaller rival.

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Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen

Chris Udemans

Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covers Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, and cybersecurity. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com.