India and World Bank sign $500m loan agreement to improve rural roads

The World Bank signed a $500m loan agreement with the Government of India to provide additional funding for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) Rural Roads Project.

Funds will be used to develop 7,000km of climate resilient roads, half of which will be built using green technologies.

Since 2004, the World Bank has been associated with the PMGSY investing more than $1.8bn of loans and credits to build road infrastructure in various Indian states, including Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Meghalaya and Uttar Pradesh.

SoftBank Vision Fund to invest $2.25bn in GM’s self-driving venture

General Motors (GM) secured a $2.25bn investment from SoftBank Vision Fund for GM Cruise Holdings, the manufacturer’s autonomous vehicle unit.

The investment is aimed at supporting GM’s plans to commercialise large-scale autonomous technology, beginning next year.

GM will also make an additional investment of $1.1bn in GM Cruise Holdings once the transaction is closed.

Vinci Highways opens section two of the Lima expressway in Peru

Vinci Concessions subsidiary Vinci Highways opened the second section of the Lima expressway in Peru.

The new 9km toll section will serve the Peruvian capital’s business districts.

Vinci Highways chairman Fadi Selwan said: “With section two of Lima’s expressway, VINCI Highways is delivering and preparing to operate modern, environment-friendly infrastructure. By improving urban mobility, we will support the growth of a city in great development.”

AVs to worsen traffic and increase travel times finds BCG study

While shared autonomous vehicles (AV) will reduce the number of cars and overall travel times in cities, they will potentially worsen traffic and increase travel time in overcrowded areas.

The findings were revealed in a report by the World Economic Forum and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) with the City of Boston in Massachusetts, US.

The joint study was carried out to predict the ground reality that the city may face once AVs become the mainstream mode of transportation.

Volvo Cars acquires stake in Luminar

Swedish luxury vehicle manufacturer Volvo Cars acquired a stake in US-based AV sensor technology manufacturer Luminar through its newly founded Volvo Cars Tech Fund investment fund.

With this investment in Luminar, Volvo Cars has further strengthened its existing collaboration with the firm, which is currently engaged in the development and testing of its LiDAR sensing technology on Volvo cars.

The technology detects objects using pulsed laser signals and serves as a crucial element of creating safe autonomous vehicles.

 GENIVI and FASTR to develop automotive cybersecurity solutions

The GENIVI Alliance partnered with research consortium Future of Automotive Security Technology Research (FASTR) to form a joint team to address automotive cybersecurity challenges.

The new team will operate under the GENIVI security team, working to advance the efforts and expertise in automotive cybersecurity.

It will work on threat modelling, secure over-the-air updates and the development of new security software.

TRI to support automated driving simulator development

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) expanded its support of open source platforms to the Computer Vision Centre (CVC) to fast-track the development of an open-source simulator for automated driving known as Car Learning to Act (CARLA).

In this regard, TRI has donated $100,000 to CVC.

CVC advanced driver assistance systems group head Dr Antonio López said: “CARLA is born to democratise research on automated driving, supporting training and testing of AI drivers beyond real-world limitations.

SCE to install 48,000 EV charging ports under $760m plans

US-based Southern California Edison (SCE) unveiled its $760m investment plan to set up more passenger electric vehicle (EV) charging ports.

SCE will install approximately 48,000 more charging ports over the next four years as part of the programme.

The latest plan also supports SCE’s clean energy vision of having seven million electric cars on California’s highways by 2030. The company has filed its plan with the California Public Utilities Commission.

Queensland to invest $376m in road and transport infrastructure

The Government of Queensland in Australia announced a A$509.7m ($376m) investment for the 2018-19 budget to improve road and transport infrastructure in North Coast district.

The budget will be delivered to the district under the Queensland Transport and Roads Investment Programme (QTRIP).

During 2018-19, the government will focus on the Bruce Highway Upgrade Project, which will see the widening of the highway from four to six lanes between Caloundra Road to Sunshine Motorway, as well as an upgrade of the interchanges for a total cost of A$812.9m ($601m).

Scientists convert household waste into road surfacing material

Researchers at Aston University in the UK  developed a new procedure to convert mixed domestic organic waste into a surfacing material for roads and pavements.

The new process was developed by academics of the university’s European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) and the Aston Institute of Materials Research (AIMR). It uses decomposed food, paper and plastic to create a product similar to bitumen, which is commonly used in road surfacing works.

If adopted, the bio-bitumen material is expected to become a cheaper and greener alternative compared to current road surfacing components, which are procured by extracting crude oil.