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Driverless Cars Could Make Residential Garages Obsolete in the Future

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【Summary】Gregg Nelson, co-founder of California-based Trumark Homes, believes that this level of disruption will resonate to residential construction businesses worldwide and may eventually lead to new home designs without garages.

Original Michael Cheng    Nov 21, 2016 6:44 AM PT

The proliferation of self-driving cars will affect a myriad of related industries, such as advertising, trucking services and residential construction. When it comes to home builders, today's modern architects and designers must remove components of a home that will no longer be useful for autonomous vehicles, including residential garages.

At this time, the removal of perhaps one of the most essential features of a home (the garage) may not seem like a good idea, considering that most cars today are parked roughly 95 percent of the time, according to an article released by Fortune Magazine. But in the future, analysts predict that private cars will be used more often, due to the rise of car-sharing and ridesharing programs, facilitated by Uber, Lyft and BMW – just to name a few.

 Gregg Nelson, co-founder of California-based Trumark Homes, believes that this level of disruption will resonate to residential construction businesses worldwide and may eventually lead to new home designs without garages. In an interview with BUILDER, he asserts that houses will be built to cater to connected lifestyles, which is a common vision that other businesses in the Internet-of-Things (IoT) sector are closely monitoring.

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Catering to Early Adopters

During the interview, Nelson explained that new architecture practices will take self-driving cars into consideration. This would mean that future homes will either have less garage space, possibly just for one car, or no garage at all. Instead, the cars may be out participating in ride-sharing programs (autonomously, when they are not being used). When it comes to urban design, Nelson suggests that communities will incorporate less internal roadways, more spaces for walking and less parking facilities. At the moment, urban planning projects require up to 33.3 percent of space to be allocated to parking.

"We are currently evaluating how to incorporate ownership of these types of vehicles into the HOA of some of the larger communities we are developing, where there would be one or more vehicles dedicated to the community to make the transit connection easy and inexpensive," said Nelson.

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Easing Urban Congestion

One of the biggest takeaways from the interview offers a glimpse of how self-driving technology can ease overwhelming urban congestion. Currently, individuals are interesting in living in or near cities because it is very convenient and less time is needed to commute to and from work. Autonomous vehicles, both private and commercial, could boost transportation efficiency in the future, resulting in shorter traveling times. This foreseeable trend could allow people to live further away from the city, thus reducing urban congestion. From an economical perspective, it may also be a solution to reducing cost of living in expensive cities with less people competing for residential spaces.

"These could dramatically open up options for people to live further away from where they work without enduring a long commute. For example, a community like Santa Rosa, which is now a commute of one-and-a-half to two hours from the Financial District in San Francisco, would be roughly 20 minutes in a vehicle described by Uber," explained Nelson.  

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