Google’s self-driving car project hit a rough patch with the departure of one of its earliest team members, but it’s evident that the tech giant is still bent on turning the experiment into a viable business. The company has hiredAirbnb executive Shaun Stewart, who led his former employer’s vacation rental team, as a director for its autonomous vehicle group. He’ll focus on commercializing the division — just what that entails isn’t clear, but previous rumors (and industry expectations) suggest that he may translate Google’s self-driving technology into a robotic ride-for-hire service.
Stewart may be a particularly good fit. As our TechCrunch colleaguesobserve, his expertise revolves around short-term travel rentals. Before Airbnb, he was the CEO of the luxury vacation deal site Jetsetter — he knows a thing or two about getting these services off the ground. And that’s important when the concept of a driverless taxi is still brand new, with plenty of nuts-and-bolts details that need to be pinned down in the years ahead.