How driverless cars, drones and other tech will change the urban landscape of Southern California

Joni Mitchell once lamented how developers “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” But what happens when demand for parking lots fades?

For more than a century, the urban landscape of Southern California has been shaped by the century-old technology: the car. But now developers and urban planning experts are envisioning how the next disruptive technologies of the 21st century – driverless cars, drones and virtual reality – may lead to smaller parking lots, fewer shopping centers and new kinds of housing designed to accommodate the evolving economy.

What does this future look like?

. Driverless cars: That big yellow taxi Joni Mitchell sang about? It just might be the self-driving kind in the future.

. Shopping centers: Passengers in those driverless cars could be whisked away to shopping centers featuring fewer retail stores because of increasing online shopping, but with more entertainment options, such as restaurants, bowling alleys and movie theaters to draw in customers.

. New areas to develop: With less demand for parking, real estate devoted to lots serving adjacent structures could be transitioned into additional housing units, office space or parks.

. More in-home tech: High-speed fiber internet service and virtual reality could see more residents working and shopping online from home.

. Deliveries: Packages will be dropped off by self-driving vehicles or drones.

Urban sprawl

Could all this change mean a push to build suburbs farther and farther from city centers? Yes, says the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis in a recent policy brief, which doesn’t necessarily view the sprawl as a good thing.

According to the report by regional transportation experts, the advent of electric and driverless cars could accelerate sprawl by increasing distances people would be willing to commute. Just as combustion engine cars encouraged the growth of suburbia then, driverless cars could move the suburban frontier even farther …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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