Self driving cars made a splash at CES 2015. As people debate the precise market size, they enumerate the use cases of self-driving cars, mostly from the perspective of accessibility for those who ordinarily would not be able to drive (e.g. the disabled). The counter argument is that people generally do love driving and would not want to give up the steering wheel.
In my mind there is a clear killer application that would make it all worthwhile: parking. A car that can drop me off at my destination then drive off to park itself is such a huge win;
- As a driver, I won’t have to look for a parking spot. But more importantly…
- As a property developer I don’t have to co-locate parking spaces close to destinations.
Business districts, public transport hubs, entertainment venues etc. won’t need dedicated parking spaces; there can be one huge lot serving all locations within some (say, 5km) area – too far to park and walk, but close enough to be recalled via a mobile app within a reasonable amount of time. The premium property that frees up will be worth a fortune.
Parking spaces are an economic waste, and self-driving cars can unlock the value trapped within their grey, uninspiring, soon-to-be-no-longer-necessary walls.