Contact Us

The Impact Of Driverless Cars On Real Estate Could Be Huge

A driverless car from Google

City planners and the real estate industry are bracing for the impact of autonomous vehicles. With no actual rollout date despite ongoing testing, cities and governments are struggling with how to prepare for and regulate this new tech, Curbed reports. Automation without proper planning and regulation could create unintended sprawl.

“This will completely change us as a society,” Southern Illinois University-Carbondale architect and assistant professor Shannon McDonald told Curbed. “I think it’ll have the same transformational change as the introduction of the automobile.”

Clarion zoning consultant and director Don Elliott said the concept of empty cars driving around city streets could lead to more congestion, not less.

Developers are already planning for a shift in parking demands. Designs are incorporating ramps on the outside of parking structures, according to Clark Pacific director of corporate development Roy Griffith, who spoke at a recent Bisnow event. Once the need for parking structures declines, the ramps can be demolished and the structure repurposed into an office or multifamily development.

With 5.7B SF of land devoted to parking lots throughout the U.S, according to Recode, there will be significant opportunities to redevelop, but developers cannot take away parking quite yet. As offices continue to densify with more employees taking up less space, parking is still very much in need.

In Silicon Valley, office densification has put a strain on parking and transportation systems, according to Louise Mozingo, professor and chair of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning and Urban design at UC Berkeley. Much of the region also is still using zoning codes from 30 years ago.

“In between that whole autonomous vehicle vision of the city, there’s going to be a very, very awkward phase in which you have much denser offices in terms of people per square foot and a transportation and larger land-use system that doesn’t work,” said Mozingo during a recent Bisnow event.