News Roundup: A Look at the World’s First Autonomous-Capable Cargo Ship, Apple Creates Buzz With Self-Driving Car News, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

Oslo-based company to debut electric, autonomous-capable ship

The company YARA Birkeland out of Oslo, Norway has revealed plans for a zero-emission, remote control-capable and eventually autonomous-capable cargo ship. YARA said the ship will launch in 2019 with the ability to be controlled remotely and deliver cargo unmanned. Within a few years after that, the company said the ship will be capable of operating fully autonomously. The container ship is being built by Kongsberg Gruppen ASA, and many say it will have a huge impact on the maritime industry, which is known for its high amounts of fuel consumption. The container ship will reportedly be used to transport fertilizer. Read more from Bloomberg.


Apple’s Tim Cook creates a buzz, offering details of self-driving plans

Apple CEO Tim Cook gave an interview with Bloomberg News last week week, creating quite a buzz as he addressed the company’s work on autonomous car systems. Those are the exact words he used — autonomous systems. Cook made it clear that Apple is no longer working on attempting to build a vehicle, but is instead working on developing the system that would power one. The project has long been called Project Titan internally. Just a couple of months ago, Bloomberg published photos of Lexus SUVs outfitted with Apple’s autonomous technology being tested on San Francisco Bay Area roads. Since Apple veteran Bob Mansfield took over control of Project Titan, engineers have been cut and costs streamlined, but Cook made it clear the project is moving full-speed ahead. Read more from Bloomberg.


Bye-bye, Google self-driving bubble car

Google self-driving spin-off company Waymo announced this week it is retiring its famous, signature “bubble” cars. For years the rounded pod cars have been traveling millions of miles around Silicon Valley as the company has been testing and gathering data for its self-driving car system. However, the company has been advancing partnerships with established vehicle manufacturers and says it will now focus on installing its systems into other cars rather than manufacturing any more of the bubble cars. In particular, Waymo’s blog indicates the company is working on outfitting a fleet of 600 Chrysler Pacifica mini-vans. Whereas the “Firefly” bubble-shaped pod car maxes out at a top speed of 25 miles per hour, the mini-vans will be capable of traveling at full speed. Read more from BBC News.


Image: Courtesy rendering of YARA Birkeland ship