The Autonomous Impact
(This map of Pittsburgh's dedicated parking areas shows how much additional space could be gained should the need for these spaces go away due to autonomous vehicles.)
Autonomous cars will have a tremendous impact on real estate. Everyone knows the saying, “Location, location, location,” and the same will remain true. Landlords will be able to offer their tenants more amenities such as parks, gardens, jogging trails, sports fields, tennis courts, and putting greens, instead of meeting the minimum code parking requirement in that jurisdiction. Indoor parking garages will be converted to retail, gyms and additional office space. Urban areas filled with open-aired parking garages will become greenspaces, farmers markets, and arts festivals. Buildings will design covered valet areas for tenants and visitors to comfortably approach their ride. Traffic congestion will be drastically reduced and municipalities will have more room to add bike lanes.
Now, what about that huge side-entry garage you had to have in your new home? Your garage becomes the perfect man or woman cave with nice tall ceilings, a gymnastics center for your child or the indoor/outdoor bar area you always wanted with glass roll-up doors. The driveway, who needs a driveway anymore? That becomes the yard you’ve always wanted.
My 75-year-old mother pushes the button on her phone, which in bold letters says, DOCTOR. Within two minutes a sleek electric autonomous vehicle, she named Polly, pulls up to her front porch. When she approaches, the proximity sensor recognizes her, and the door gently opens. “Hello Nona,” the pleasant female voice of Polly says through the surround sound speakers. “Nona, we are headed to the doctors. Would you like to watch the news, like you did Saturday?” Polly asks. “No, I want to watch my grand-daughter’s new YouTube video,” my mother screams thinking the car won’t be able to hear her. The YouTube video shows up on the large flat screen that is the dashboard, and the car door closes. A cup of hot Rooibos tea appears beside her. She sips tea and watches the video, as the driverless car takes her to her appointment.
When she arrives at the doctor’s office, the car pulls up to the curb and Polly says, “Nona, hit the button when you are ready to leave, and I will be there in two minutes.” Nona gets out of the car and visits her doctor. On a sunny day, my mother enjoys sitting in the botanic garden just outside the door, which used to be a parking lot. The gardens are filled with ponds with water lilies and lotuses, perennials and plenty of benches for her to relax. When she’s ready, she taps the button on her phone to take her to her next destination, or home. Polly arrives within two minutes.
I hope my mom is around to meet Polly.