How will autonomous cars change apartments and cities?

8 years ago
4 minutes

The past 24 months have been occupied by some incredible technological developments.

However, it would be hard to argue that Tesla hasn’t been at the forefront of mounting a leading change in social progressions and mindsets.

Tesla’s past achievements span from the company’s adoption in 2003, to decades into our future.

  • In 2003, the company, Tesla was formed by entrepreneur Elon Musk.
  • By 2008, Tesla launched the Roadster, a car that was able to accelerate to 100km/h in under 4 seconds - all powered by a lithium battery.
  • As 2010 rolled over, Tesla raised over $226m in capital, giving it the go ahead to produce a more consumer-based, and far more realistic option, for electric cars.
  • 2 years later, in 2012, the Tesla Model S, a premium sedan, was launched to the public - again powered by lithium batteries.
  • Later that same year, the Supercharger Network (stations where Tesla cars could charge, much like petrol stations), were implemented and installed around the world. All these stations are charged by solar-power.
  • In 2014, all of Tesla’s technology patents were released to the public, in an attempt to entice other automobile manufacturers to begin development on their own electric cars.
  • In 2016, Tesla announced that they have created the technology to implement autonomous (or driverless) vehicles on to the streets.

Whilst this is all ‘well and dandy’ and downright incredible, what Tesla is the catalyst for, is by far more interesting.

The question that arises from this is; how will autonomous vehicles affect a city, specifically cities that are relying on, or foreseeing a reliance on, apartment living?

If we are to predict, and assume, that Tesla’s claims are not only true, but realistic, then how will companies, apartment buildings, or offices, that use car-parking as an act of revenue adapt?

Currently, car-sharing start ups, such as FlexiCar and GoGet, implement a shared-car program; where by you register when you need to use the car, and it is there for you to use. It is using this principal that autonomous cars would not only be useful, but possibly dominate.

Confused as to the possibilities? Then this example may help.

Let’s say you’re a group of friends living in a relative distance to each other. It’s Saturday night, and you are all calling it quits, and want to head home. You’ll simply call your own car to pick you up, much like Uber, and schedule in the drop off points. It’ll could be your own private chauffeur, only costing a fraction of the price. 

If you work a 9-5 office job, your car is particularly functionless during those times, so if a group of four purchased the car together, you would effectively be splitting the cost of the car by 4, and getting it whenever you want. 

So how are apartments affected? Well, apartments generally warrant $40,000 into the price of an apartment if it comes with a carpark, whereas in CBD’s, the price can rise to $100,000. If autonomous cars begin to dominate the roads, where users can tell their car to come pick them up at any time, who needs multiple car parks? 

Whilst one-car families are a rarity today, autonomous cars work in favour of reducing that. If a wife needs to be at work at 7:30am, the kids need to be at school at 830am, and the husband has a meeting at 9am, then the single car can do it all; it would drop the wife to work at 7:30am, be back in time to take the kids to school at 8:30am, and then the husband at 9:00am.

It is here, that cities come into play. By removing any human lapses in concentration or ability when it comes to road-driving, traffic would, in theory, not exist. If the cars are working as one organism, much like a school of fish, the roads should flow with cars going at a predictable speed.

If there is a dinner date at 6pm, sudden or unpredicted traffic jams would significantly decrease, providing a more predictable experience not only for those on the road, but those crossing the streets in busy areas.

If cars can adapt to become more sufficient and efficient, surely apartments can as well. It is down to city planners, politicians, developers and, of course, consumers, to shape the way in which our cities expand and grow.