3. Portico Circular Driveways
While we won’t need garages, we will need driveways – most likely a functional circular driveway with the front door at the midpoint under a weather-shielding portico. Home properties will be landscaped in this way so that shared AVs can proceed to the doorway, load and unload passengers, and then continue to the street.
4. Standardized Delivery Boxes
This small but important home feature will accommodate and secure the increasing number of deliveries we receive and the many more that will be delivered soon by AV-delivery vehicles. A number of key retailers will collaborate to develop a standardized delivery box, similar to a mailbox but larger, to accommodate a variety of autonomous delivery service providers so they can securely deposit packages and other items at the home. Existing homes will be retrofitted with this feature, and it will be standard in all new homes. Some new homes may even be designed with a delivery dock or a one-way delivery door into the house.
5. Reduced Emphasis on Proximity
Since automated, shared driving and delivery from point A to point B will involve far less human involvement, home buyers will think less about “Location, Location, Location” and more about “Time, Time, Time.” Consideration about distances to shops and amenities will be overtaken by how we utilize our time along the way. Autonomous vehicles with built-in games and other forms of entertainment will be in huge demand to distract us from the time and distance we’re traveling.
6. Parking Lots will Disappear
Some of the space currently reserved for parking will be used as a staging area for shared AVs. Space devoted to massive surface parking areas and standalone parking garages will be put to better use for parks and new developments. New urban office buildings will need only one level for personal and shared AVs rather than the multi-level parking garages we see today.
7. Car Sales and Maintenance Moves to B2B
Currently, over 10% of retail space is dedicated to the auto industry – from showrooms and brake shops to car washes and gas stations. But as AV fleet ownership consolidates, there will be fewer and fewer customer-facing car businesses. Fleet owners will purchase their autonomous vehicles in bulk, directly from manufacturers and there will be little need for the multitude of new and used car lots we see today. Similarly, auto repair will shift from consumer-focused to in-house maintenance shops by fleet-owning companies. This all means that a lot of valuable land will be available to repurpose for commercial/residential development, entertainment, and recreation.
8. Redesign of Entry-Exit for Public Spaces
Similar to how new home landscaping will accommodate circular driveways, the street-facing layout of public buildings will be designed to resemble a hotel-like, off-street, drive-up/drop-off configuration. Automated systems will manage the flow of AVs coming and going from all high traffic arrival-departure areas.
9. City Expansion
As more people move into cities, cities themself will begin to grow their footprint exponentially, as people pay less and less attention to proximity to goods, culture, and services. Since AVs reduce human involvement and traffic congestion, people will feel liberated to venture further from core city centers to the wide-open spaces of suburbia and beyond.
However, as I mentioned earlier, travel time and how engaged we are along the way, not distance, will be our primary concern when choosing a location. The shared AV option will be affected by the time it takes to free up an AV to travel to the rider’s destination and bring them back again. Since it’s currently more challenging to get a Lyft or Uber ride in the suburbs than in the central city, it will be interesting to see how autonomous vehicles change our urban vs. rural perceptions.
We should remember, too, that shared AVs will not be our only source of transportation. Mass transit AV buses and subways will still be an important element and option. However, these networks will become far less convenient and less cost-differentiated over time and may disappear altogether.
Shared AV-based transportation will be a boon to our cities and society overall. They will not only increase safety but also reduce congestion thanks to improved, sensor-enhanced traffic flow. And maybe just as important, but less obvious, our new lifestyles shaped around convenient shared AV access will allow us to make far better use of valuable land in our cities and suburbs.