Driverless cars seem to be here to stay. From Google cars to other automakers’ models, there are many test models and varieties. Although there have been a few fender benders, these largely safe cars are real “game changers” in terms of driver lifestyle. In addition, the driverless cars may also affect real estate purchasing, construction and tenancy. Some possible impacts include:
· Parking proximity: If eventually these cars really can be remotely driven, they don’t need to be parked close to owners. They can be parked at a distance and then brought in when necessary. This means that owner drivers don’t necessarily need nearby parking spaces.
· Rethinking senior housing: Many older adults consider access to public transportation or moving into facilities that provide transportation as they curtail their own driving. Driverless cars would allow these seniors greater autonomy for a longer period of time in a variety of locations.
· Size of parking garages/parking places may be able to be downsized. Humans need a larger “imprint” when they are parking, but self parking cars need far less wiggle room.
· Gas station locations: There may be less of a demand for gas stations as cars can be programmed to be gassed up without a driver’s presence. Gas stations in congested urban areas may become less of a draw and less of a cash cow. Gas stations won’t necessarily even have to be on an attractive, visible corner, making these settings available for other commercial entities.
· Gas station as convenience store: Often the items sold inside the gas stations are the real money makers and the gas is close to being a loss leader. If driverless cars can gas themselves up without a driver, there will be less visits to the convenience stores.
Driverless cars will offer new opportunities and new challenges. It will be exciting to see how many aspects of real estate will be impacted.