With 60 test vehicles on the road and a coverage of over 1.8 million miles, Google’s autonomous vehicles are hitting a new high everyday. The company is doing everything in its power to speed up the development of its self-driving cars. Its latest effort is hiring Airbnb’s Shaun Stewart.
Prior to joining Google, Stewart served as a top executive who set up the company’s vacation rentals business. Before this, he was the chief executive of Jetsetter, a company that was acquired by TripAdvisor. All in all, Stewart is kind of an expert at building and scaling businesses, which Google surely requires for its seven year-old project.
Shaun Stewart will be replacing Chris Urmson, chief technical officer of the project who left the tech giant earlier this month. The latter served as the project’s team leader and chief public spokesman until ex-Hyundai executive John Krafcik was hired by Google last year as the project’s CEO. Many other top executives have joined Google’s latest effort to make the future now. These include Kevin Vosen, the project’s first general counsel and Tim Papandreou, a former San Francisco city official and expert in transportation policy.
The seven year-old project has seen a lot of ups and downs. In fact, there have been more changes and developments in the project in just the last couple of years than before. Just considering the last few months, the company has expanded to four cities, signed a collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to double its fleet of autonomous vehicles and even opened an engineering tech center in Michigan.
Urmson predicted last year, right before leaving the company, that Google’s self-driving technology would be ready for production by 2020. He added that the company was actively seeking partners among global automakers– evident from the developments we saw before he left.
Following his joining, Stewart will report directly to Krafcik.