Ten years ago, driverless cars seemed to be a technology that belonged far in the future. But this development, that could represent the biggest change in the way we live and operate in the last century, is already a reality set to enter mainstream use in the next few years.
Google, Tesla, Apple, Volvo, and a host of independent start-ups, are engaged in a race to dominate this new field, bringing the pace of development to a breakneck speed. The property industry, like every other, is due to be impacted by self-driving vehicles.
Commuting and connectivity
Commuting time is one of the major considerations when it comes to a property’s location. But when self-driving cars become widely available, the time that people used to spend driving to work could be put to use in more productive ways.
Imagine transferring to your car in the morning and starting your day’s work, or going back to sleep for an hour or two! This may mean that people are prepared to live further from their place of work, possibly allowing for greater expansion, and a rise in value, of suburban areas.
And the automating technology that allows self-driving cars to exist isn’t just reserved to cars. Many forms of public transport are set to become automated and driverless in the next few decades, reinforcing ease of transportation. This will all add to a sense of the distances between places becoming less difficult to navigate, allowing for previously undesirable locations to become accessible and viable for many.
Self-driving cars aren’t just for the individual. In fact, the technology seems more likely to make its debut in the form of driverless taxi services than as personal automobiles. Add to this the fact that public transport is evolving, and the result is large areas of inner-city land previously used for parking being freed up.
This new space may be used by councils to create green space and cycle lanes, shifting the desirability of certain areas or streets, or it may even create space for new property to be built. Existing rooftop or underground parking for inner city apartment blocks may half in size, freeing up space for changes within these complexes that could significantly impact on their value.
Another development coming about due to the self-driving technology is automated goods transportation in the form of driverless lorries. Currently, there are strict regulations determining how many hours a driver can operate a truck before they have to take a break. This fact means that any company that delivers or transports goods needs to have warehouses and factories as close as possible to distributers and customers to maximise their profit.
The advent of the driverless lorry will remove this major determining factor, allowing for much greater flexibility of location and a corresponding shift in prices and opportunity for industrial property developers.