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Potholes are stalling UK driverless car innovation

Pothole 3x2

Potholes are blocking Britain from taking the lead in driverless car development, according to a technology start-up.

Poor road conditions can ‘‘confuse’’ autonomous vehicles, FiveAI senior technician John Lusty said. As a result they have prevented the UK expanding the driverless car network.

“The poor conditions of our roads is something that makes it harder, because one of the key things that the cars use to make decisions are the road markings.

“So if you had a crucial part of the road markings worn away, the car does not know what is road and what is not road. It doesn’t know what is its lane or someone else’s lane,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

“I would imagine the situation in the future, where one of the best ways to expand the AV network would be to do things like fixing potholes or so before replacing street signs.”

The AA said the UK’s roads are ‘‘a national disgrace’’, after a Freedom of Information request revealed the country’s worst roads. The route with the highest number of complaints was the Mellor Brook Bypass in Lancashire with 545 complaints to the council in one year, the Sunday Mirror said. 

In March transport secretary Chris Grayling announced a £100M local authority pothole repair fund for roads that were badly affected by winter weather. The funding came a week after the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey found that local authorities will need an extra £3.3M each, and 14 years, to get the roads they manage back to a reasonable state.

A report by the National Audit Office says that council spending on highways and transport has fallen by almost 40% over the last six years.

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