In a move that’s presumably intended to pave the way for commercialization, Google’s (Alphabet’s) self-driving car project has brought a top Airbnb executive onboard, according to recent reports.
The new hire, Shaun Stewart, formerly led his earlier employer’s vacation rental team, and was formerly CEO at the travel firm Jetsetter (since acquired by TripAdvisor) as well, so one would guess that he’ll be working to put Google’s self-driving tech to use in some sort of commercial per-use/taxi application.
The move follows other changes at the company, including the departure of the 7-year-old project’s Chief Technical Officer and spokesperson, Chris Urmson, as well as the hire of the project’s first general counsel Kevin Vosen.
Previous to his departure, Urmson publicly predicted that the company’s self-driving tech would be production/market ready by 2020.
Reuters provides more on Shaun Stewart: “Stewart is an experienced technology executive specializing in building and scaling businesses … Stewart will report to Krafcik, whose recent hires include Kevin Vosen, the project’s first general counsel, and Tim Papandreou, a former San Francisco city official and expert in transportation policy. Over the past 12 months, Google has expanded to 4 cities, signed a collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to double its fleet of autonomous vehicles, and opened an engineering tech center in Michigan.”
The company’s test-vehicle fleet currently numbers around 60 units. To date, 1.8 million miles have been driven autonomously by the firm’s self-driving test-vehicle fleet.
Image via LinkedIn
For more information on Google’s self-driving car program see:
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