Commercial Investment Real Estate May/June 2017 - Page 34

States with Autonomous Vehicle Legislation Enacted - Alabama - California - Florida - Louisiana Executive Order - Michigan - North Dakota - Nevada - Pennsylvania - Tennessee - Utah - Virginia - And the District of Columbia - Arizona - Massachusetts Source: National Conference of State Legislatures A major question is how the onset of autonomous vehicles will affect the urban-suburban dynamic. People may be drawn to the suburbs because commuting in a driverless vehicle would be less stressful and more productive, while the cost and headache of urban parking would no longer be an issue. On the other hand, as parking garages and other automo- bile-related space are converted to residential, recreational, or commercial uses, could cities become less expensive and more attractive to newer demographics? “The world is never a simple binary yes and no,” Branson says. “I think the effects will vary. There will be interest- ing winners in the suburban environment and in the urban environment.” Rapid Technology Breakthroughs Autonomous vehicle technology comes in many different forms, some of which many individuals may already be using in their personal vehicles. New models of popular cars increasingly include features that help drivers brake, park, and avoid collisions. A study by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center identifi es 13 different autonomous vehicle concepts, rang- Self-driving Technology Could Eliminate the Hassle of Human-Powered Parking. Parking event Search for parking g Source: Consumers Electronics 32 May | June 2017 ing from near-term automated technologies (such as, traffi c jam assist) to fully automated vehicles that lack any mecha- nism for human operation. “Some of the concepts represent automated vehicle fea- tures that are likely to be introduced within a few years,” the U.S. Transportation study authors wrote. “More advanced concepts, on the other hand, may not be available for a decade or more (if ever), but the concepts represent plausible applications of automated vehicle technology in light of the current pace of technological development.” Pros, Cons, and Obstacles Proponents of driverless vehicle technology contend that removing humans from the traveling equation will make roads safer and more effi cient. When machines do the driving, they assert that individuals will live in a happier, more productive, and less energy-dependent society. Myriad studies have found that human error or defi cien- cies contribute to about nine of every 10 automobile acci- dents. With computers at the wheel, traffi c jams caused by crashes would diminish, and cars could conceivably travel closer together in narrower lanes. Delays resulting from distracted drivers, hesitations at traffi c signals, and many other effi ciency drains would disappear. Skeptics worry about the loss of human control and argue that the technology isn’t sophisticated enough for everything that goes into driving. Case in point: Tesla’s Autopilot was involved in a fatal crash in Florida on May 7, 2016. With the autonomous feature engaged, the car drove directly into a tractor-trailer at 65 miles per hour. Other resistance may be motivated by the threat to cer- tain professions, such as truck and taxi drivers, and even entire industries such as automobile insurance and car deal- ers. Regulatory and transportation infrastructure limita- tions also exist. Regulators are trying. According to the National Confer- ence of State Legislatures, nine states and the District of Columbia had enacted legislation related to autonomous vehicle operations, and two had issued an executive order on driverless vehicles as of year-end 2016. Several others continue their debate on the matter. In conjunction with its funding news, the U.S. Depart- ment of Transportation released a set of federal guidelines COMMERCIAL INVESTMENT REAL ESTATE