As the self driving car evolution continues we see that more and more that they are more than just a convenient tool, but rather are both helpful to the environment, and as it turns out, possibly cities structures.
How you might ask?
Getting rid of parking.
If we have a AI self-driving car taking us from point A to point B, we won’t need to park it idly till we come back.
"The biggest impact is going to be on parking. We aren’t going to need it, definitely not in the places we have it now," Alain L. Kornhauser, a researcher in autonomous vehicles at Princeton University, told Patrick Sisson at Curbed.
"Having parking wedded or close to where people spend time, that’s going to be a thing of the past. If I go to a football game, my car doesn’t need to stay with me. If I’m at the office, it doesn’t need to be there. The current shopping centre with the sea of parking around it, that’s dead."
Although it is highly unlikely that car parks and city streets will be completely deserted after these cars become more and more accessible and mainstream, even a moderate intake of these self-driving cars will lower congestion in clogged up suburban areas.
"An average vehicle in the US is parked for a staggering 95 percent of the time," Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told Curbed.
"Car sharing is already reducing the need for parking spaces: it has been estimated that every shared car removes between 10 and 30 privately owned cars from the street."
"Self-driving vehicles will reinforce this trend and promise to have a dramatic impact on urban life, because they will blur the distinction between private and public modes of transportation," he added.
"‘Your’ car could give you a lift to work in the morning and then, rather than sitting idle in a parking lot, give a lift to someone else in your family – or, for that matter, to anyone else in your neighbourhood, social-media community, or city."
If these predications do turn out to be a reality then all the areas previously used for parking could be used for possibly more environmentally friendly options.
"In this environment, you don’t need to park your car, it’ll park by itself, so you can think about recapturing the space from the front of one building to the front of another building," said Gerard Tierney of US-based architecture and design firm, Perkins+Will.
"It does become a pedestrian-dominated environment, where these vehicles would need to take a more subsidiary role. We would see a huge increase in the amount of space given up to the public realm and a huge increase in the width of sidewalks, bike lanes, and space for any other kind of alternate transportation."
Although this isn’t going to be an overnight thing, the possibilities to come are still exciting.