Driverless cars - the biggest potential impact to real estate?

Firstly assume for a minute that it's 100% feasible. I mean who knows, it could end up being a disaster, but let's assume for this thought experiment it will be a huge success as I don't want this discussion to be focused on tech.

Anyway it only dawned on me recently what a significant impact this could have on real estate. Proximity to bus stops / train stations, shops / restaurants and the CBD are arguably the three biggest factors in buying property (for most people). What happens when Coles sets up a system to load driverless cars with all your groceries and have it drive back home to you, without you even being in it? Or what if you don't have to worry about parking anymore to visit the local Westfields because upon dropping you off, it returns home until you're ready again.

Does this upend the current definition of a "good location"? Would property values over time shift in different directions? Would I rather buy an acerage an hour away for the same price of an inner city studio if an driverless car could get me almost anywhere I want while I sit there sipping coffee and reading the paper? Sure I could do this on a train too, but it removes any friction involved in walking to public transport, switching to connecting busses etc. In this scenario, I walk to my garage, sit down, and step out when I'm there. This seems more game changing to me than the current pitch of "hey ma, no hands!". These cars over time would be reconfigured to be more like little lounge rooms. You'd play games, watch tv etc. You see all these rich people in California living way out in huge estates far from the city and they don't care, they have drivers. It's not inconvenient for them at all. It would bring this same luxury to everyone.

Anyway my thinking was that of all the iminent technologies, this is the one that's most likely to affect real estate over the coming decades. The landscape would change completely. Think about how big Westfields or office buildings could be without having to worry about dedicating all that space to parking. Think about how fast cars could go (and thus how short trips will be) when every vehicle is expertly controlled by a machine.

you would need to assume ceteris paribus, otherwise the entire traffic network would collapse. Who knows tho, may eventually speed things up?
Better still, imagine the commute inside a peaceful, driverless car in terms of work productivity. No more people bashing into my laptop as I squirrel away a few work emails on my stinky, sardine train to work in the mornings. People would work adjusted days because throght have say 2 or 3 genuine work hours in-vehicle, each day from their acreage to the CBD.

But in this Utopian future, I'd argue the by then, the need to physically work in the CBD often/frequenlty would be diluted.

But then... Wouldn't there be way more cars on the road? I guess the government would automate it to be like a driverless taxi system instead? I.e. like a driverless uber?
Isn't one of the drivers of property prices lifestyle factors? Sure, you may live out in the sticks but what of the many who want the vibrancy of inner city life? Those willing to pay a premium to be within walking distance of theatres, bars, cafes, restaurants, etc. Those who enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big smoke.

What is interesting is that I think this will change the model of transport ownership. That is, we may just end up using transport as a service and pay a monthly subscription fee to have these autonomous vehicles (which may evolve into flying ones too) on call 24/7. Why would you bother with a garage? Car parks can be turned into housing, playgrounds, sports oval, parks and open space. It could be quite revolutionary and free up alot of time, reduce accidents, road rage and drink driving will be a thing of the past.
I still think it would be a very hard system to keep going,and people will still be driving cars..

Isn't one of the drivers of property prices lifestyle factors? Sure, you may live out in the sticks but what of the many who want the vibrancy of inner city life? Those willing to pay a premium to be within walking distance of theatres, bars, cafes, restaurants, etc. Those who enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big smoke.

Yes absolutely. There will still be a premium for that. What I'm suggesting is that premium would be eroded big time.
I think there will be some small shifts in which areas are popular, but overall property areas will keep a similar relationship in price. Some regional areas may get opened up more though.

Driverless car to and around the Hunter Valley? Yes please!

I think though that Driverless cars are going to be a total game changer for society overall. Sure, longer commutes will be much nicer, but then again, shorter commutes will be so so much faster and easier than today.

I don't think driverless cars will be like how most imagine them though. I think the majority will be very small, single or double seaters that don't look anything like a car today.

Most will be available on a subscription model. Bigger cars will be available for families etc.

They have the potential to replace public transport. Every trip will be point to point - no sharing unless you want to.

Cars will be electric and sit and charge when not in use. You will be able to summon them with your phone and always have a ride.

Travel times will be very low thanks to higher speeds. Safety won't come from crumble zones, but from an overall computer control system that controls all cars. Add in whole car airbags and deaths should be virtually eliminated.

The system will constantly be optimising itself to ensure cars are always where they are needed most, so no one ever has to wait.

People will still drive cars, but for fun, in areas away from cities.

I can't wait!
So in this scenario, what happens to your car when you arrive in Westfield? It drives back home? What if you live 20 min away? You have to order your car back ahead of you finishing shopping? What if you then decide to grab a bite, what happens to the car then?

The way I see it, it would not change things fundamentally. If we assume the ownership model is pretty much like cars we have today, only driverless, then it would not change things like congestion in peak hours, parking in the city, shopping center and such. Sure the computer can optimise traffic flow and speed: but only to a certain safe limit: in the complexity of the city with lines merging, flow changing from 4 lines to 2 etc, there will be a limit to speed and I don't think we'll see cars running around at 200k an hour. On the outskirts and highways - provided the surface quality is upgraded - sure. Reduced car size might increase parking capacity, but as long as we each own our own car (and we don't rely on a complete shared ownership model where you can just hop in any car that happens to be around) it will have to stay with us where we go. Unless you happen to drive really close to your home in which case it can return there I guess. Also even if no attention needs to be paid to doing the actual driving, it does not eliminate commuting time: sure the commute is a lot more comfortable, but you'll still be sitting in the car for an hour or so. In this regard, distance to CBD will still remain an important factor for property prices IMO.
Also, I don't see it eliminating public transport like rail or buses due to traffic congestion and parking issue still being a concern. If we imagine automatic driverless cars, it's reasonable to imagine buses and trains will have kept forward too with greater frequency of services. In Sydney you already have the M line buses that come every 10 min during peak hours. Train rails are not going away either.

Lastly, there is an element of certain property that will remain unaffected by a new car model: for instance properties located in a beach suburb: they will always be close to the beach and thus in demand.

An interesting concept nevertheless. IMO we would first see greater development in awesome public transport before the driverless car takes over the main transportation mode. I remember going to Hong Kong, where there is a subway coming in every minute. You never need to even check when it's coming, because there is zero wait and the transport is so fast.
Ah, phiber, but what if....these cars can fly. That will make a big difference.

But lets just assume they can't fly for now. OK I'm out cruisin' on a Friday night and I want to impress some skirt on the footpath. A nice burnout would be handy but it can't be done, it's driverless!

Unless the car has some sort of "burn out" button that the passenger can press when the need arises, then I really don't see much use for this type of vehicle.
I may be eating my words (text?) at some point in the future but I don't see driverless cars as a disruptive innovation. Really it's just like a taxi except you don't pay at the end, and it probably doesn't smell like vomit or urine.

People will also need to get past the driverless concept. There are many forms of transport that are now driverless (trains, cable cars, aircraft) but humans still feel that they are superior to machines so don't fully trust driverless technology.

We will however get used to it, in the same way as I got used to my car reverse parking itself. Now I have become completely useless at manually reverse parking and so therefore fully dependent on a machine to park my car for me. Pathetic I know but don't knock it till you try it

Common use of driverless cars is still a fair way off imho and meanwhile there could be some other type of disruptive innovation that completely changes the way we think about commuting.

Driverless cars and work productivity?!? Bah humbug

We already have the next best thing!!! car pooling.

For every 3 days out of 4 you can sit back, relax, hammer away at the laptop etc while the designated driver takes you to your place of work or close to it.