Google scraps floating showcase barge

Mysterious Google barge project is sunk, one floating showroom sold for scrap

Tags: Google IncorporatedUSA
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Google scraps floating showcase barge Google's barges were intended to be floating exhibition and retail spaces to show off new Google solutions. (Getty Images)
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By  Mark Sutton Published  August 4, 2014

Google has apparently abandoned its project to build floating barge showrooms in the US.

Last year Google began secret construction of two barges, one in the San Francisco Bay and one in New London, Connecticut. The barges were built using standard shipping containers, in temporary hangars. Each barge has a structure built of 80 shipping containers and flanked by rows of sails.

The cost was estimated at between $35m and $40m per barge.

Initial speculation suggested that the barges could be floating data centres, that would be towed from one location to another to meet demand, possibly using seawater for cooling of servers.

Documents lodged with authorities in San Francisco, and later confirmed by Google, revealed that the barges were intended to be used as floating exhibition and retail spaces to showcase new Google solutions such as Glass and self-driving cars.

The barges were intended to be in use by November 2013, but work appears to have stalled, with little progress since then. In March, the West coast barge left the San Francisco Bay, and was towed to Stockton, California, after problems with permits to remain in the Bay area. The East coast barge had already been moved to a site in Portland, Maine.

On Friday, Google confirmed to CNET that it had sold the barge in Portland, and it is understood it will now be scrapped. The fate of the San Francisco barge was not disclosed.

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