Google hires Airbnb executive to commercialize self-driving cars

Shaun Stewart's experience building a marketplace for short-term rentals could be useful for a service-based transportation business.

Google is gearing up to bring its self-driving vehicles to the marketplace with its latest hire, former Airbnb executive Shaun Stewart.

Stewart will serve as a director of the self-driving car project and report to the project's CEO John Krafcik, Reuters reports. The hire follows the departure of CTO Chris Urmson, who stepped down after more than seven years with the unit.

Google's self-driving cars are still in development, but autonomous vehicles are expected to hit the road in the US in just a few years. Urmson predicted last year that Google's autonomous vehicles would be ready to go on the market by 2020.

Stewart's experience building Airbnb, a marketplace for short-term rentals, could help Google find its footing in the emerging mobility-as-a-service ecosystem that both traditional automakers and tech firms are jumping into. The autonomous vehicle software startup nuTonomy is now running self-driving taxis in Singapore, while Uber is going to be picking up customers in Pittsburgh with self-driving cars from Volvo and Ford (albeit with two Uber employees sitting in the front of the vehicle).