The driverless car is coming. There is no doubt.
Seriously, imagine pushing a button on your phone and a car appears outside your home, sans driver, to take you to work, the mall, the airport, or to visit a friend.
This will be an option, and sooner than you think. The technology exists already, it’s just being refined. Cities such as Boston, NYC, San Francisco, and Phoenix are all targets of pilot programs for a fleet of self driving cars. (Take a look here.)
By the early 2020’s, you will be confronted with the reality that the car next to you at the stoplight has no driver — and it will feel extremely odd.
But after you get over the shock, how would your day to day life change?
Would the rise of an on-demand self driving car change your housing choice? For many of us, the answer would be yes.
On a personal level, imagine no car payment, no gasoline or insurance, no repairs or maintenance, and no parking expense. Other than your housing costs, automobile costs are some of the biggest financial responsibilities we have.
At the public level, every 500 to 1,000 SF of space developed currently has a requirement of at least one parking space. Street parking requirements, garage or surface parking requirements — all of the zoning laws will change to allow for more density and far fewer restrictions on parking.
And at the market level, imagine a world where you can choose whatever home you want and NOT have to worry about your car. Maybe you still have one for long trips that you store off site, or even pay for a fractional car sharing service.
The rise of the self driving car will change how we live. Expect to see more vertical development in our cities, largely due to decreased paragon requirements. And expect to see more suburban development without 20% or more of the expense of the home dedicated to auto storage.
Much like the landline phone, or the VCR, our kids will look at a home with a garage and ask, ‘Hey, what’s THAT for?’