According to new research by the RAC Foundation, a combination of potholes, poor quality road markings and complex traffic control systems could significantly hamper development of self-driving vehicles in the UK. Manufacturers have been predicting that fully autonomous cars, able to take complete control of driving tasks from A to B, will be deployed by 2025. Connected vehicles with a degree of full autonomy are expected within the next decade. Yet the RAC report raises questions about whether communication and information systems will be able to facilitate connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) as more comprehensive coverage becomes necessary to support them. Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, explained: 'Driverless cars will make decisions based on their best assessment of their surroundings. Throw in variables like potholes, unclear and obscured signs and lines, and intermittent communication coverage from our currently patchy network and you could find that far from offering the swift, comfortable travel we seek, our new autonomous cars are condemned to crawling along in 'proceed with caution' mode.î CAVs will require detailed maps of the routes they are travelling. Consequently, a range of roadside communication technologies are being considered for development in order to support the expected range of vehicle-based sensors, devices and communications systems. In the future, strategically-placed communication beacons could replace traditional traffic signals by providing vehicle position information as well as a number of other functions. However, there are numerous challenges to consider highlighted in the report. Certain types of communication signal are bound to work less effectively within urban side streets, implying a need for more devices and an increase in associated costs. Everyday road usage needs to be considered, too _ construction plans, for instance, will have to be filed well in advance if an autonomous and connected road network could be affected. The report suggests that policymakers are currently limited in their ability to plan ahead, as research on CAVs and their infrastructure requirements is still relatively sparse. Evidence for the likely consequences of different types of vehicular automation is hard to source. As a result, the degree to which maintenance, renewal and configuration costs will increase is yet to be quantified. The report concludes that Government needs to make a decision on the types of automation it wishes to support, as well as on the specifics of implementation. A policy for prioritising of heavy goods vehicle automation, for example, will have crucial implications for infrastructure and cost. Furthermore, CAVs are unlikely to reach their full potential without sufficiently advanced planning by policymakers and engineers. All previous evidence within other industries _ such as aviation and rail _ shows a positive correlation between widespread use of sophisticated technology and significant increases in maintenance costs. Recent reports from the Asphalt Industry Alliance's Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey and the House of Lords Science and Technology committee have highlighted additional concerns, showing that local authorities will require at least £12 billion in order to bring the UK's deteriorating road network up to scratch. In England, Wales and Scotland, only around 5% of roads are controlled by Highways England or the Welsh Assembly Government, while 95% fall under the remit of over 140 distinct local authorities. Darren Capes, transport systems manager for the City of York Council, said: 'Authorities need to understand what supporting connected and autonomous vehicles will mean for the policy and funding decisions that they need to make now. 'They need to understand what technology decisions need to be made as existing highway systems reach the end of their life and new systems are considered. 'They need to do this against a backdrop of pressure to reduce costs and find further efficiencies in delivering services. 'They also need clarity on how the co-ordination of countrywide delivery of connected and autonomous vehicles will be managed between national and local government and the public and private sectors.î He concluded: 'Connectivity and some degree of autonomy is inevitable and will be driven by industry, the motor manufacturers and public demand. However, I feel that most local authorities are not yet sufficiently prepared to deliver it.î