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Future Of Driving

Autonomous Vehicles Wouldn't Just Change Driving, They'd Also Revolutionize Parking

When you think about driverless cars, you probably imagine a more relaxing commute, one where you get to kick back with a book instead of navigating rush-hour traffic. You may not think about the part when you finally reach your destination—and simply get out of your car, no search for parking required. Autonomous vehicles could totally revolutionize parking, and the entire structure of cities could change as a result.

Related: AI Is Changing The Future Of Driving

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Save On Space

According to industry consultants McKinsey & Company, once autonomous vehicles go mainstream, the need for parking space in the United States could reduce by more than 5.7 billion square meters. That's nearly the size of Delaware. There are many reasons for this. For one thing, traditional cars are parked 95% of the time, on average. Once driverless cars are widely available, private car ownership could become the exception to the rule, with people sharing cars with friends and family or paying a subscription fee for on-demand transport. That could slash the number of cars on the road—and in parking lots. University of Texas professor Dr. Kara Kockelman told Curbed, "I think we'd lose 50 percent of parking demand. If everyone [stopped owning a car], you could get rid of 7 out of 8 cars on the road, so you'd need an eighth of the spots."

Related: The World's First Self-Driving Truck Delivery Was Beer

But even the driverless cars that would be around would take up less parking space than traditional cars. That's because they drop you off before they park themselves, so parking spaces don't need to leave room for the cars to open their doors.

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

That change wouldn't just make parking lots smaller. It would open up a world of possibilities. Existing parking garages could repurpose the newly unused floors to house office and retail space, reserving parking areas for underground or upper floors where they wouldn't be seen.

Related: The Array Of Things Is A Fitness Tracker For Your City

Even better, since driverless cars don't care about how far away they park, cities could move parking lots to the edge of town. Could you imagine walking through a city without a single unsightly parking lot? What would it be like to live in a city centered on pedestrians rather than drivers?

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