How will autonomous vehicles change structured parking?

Smart Moves for Cities: The Urban Mobility Revolution Will Start With These 3 Projects came across my desk recently.   I prefer articles that are maybe just a little more critical of the eternal supremacy of car-based mobility, but the piece is largely based on Audi’s presentation at the Smart City Expo.

What I found most interesting about the article was how Audi says self-driving cars will change parking structures:

Since a computer can be much more precise about it’s movements in a parking garage, the aisles and spaces can be much narrower than in a traditional garage.  Additionally, one could imagine that stacked parking, similar to what valets do now, would be more widespread.  Since humans would very rarely need to enter these garages, there would be much less needed in the way of stairs and walkways.  Optimization of Space and Cost For Parking

Audi thinks this will lead to a 26% reduction in parking area needed in early implementations, and an eventual 60% reduction by 2030.  Great right?  I’m not so sure.

I suppose this could be a good thing for cities which don’t already have tens (or hundreds) of thousands of structured parking spaces.  After all, unless Audi really thinks (and I’m sure they *HOPE*) that people will demand their own, individual, self-driving car, won’t we have an excess of parking as it is by 2030?  Much of that parking isn’t going anywhere for decades and, inefficient as it may be, won’t be useful for anything BUT parking self-driving cars in.

If anything, this is just another reason to build as little parking now as possible.  After all, it will be completely obsolete in 10 years, by Audi’s own admission.  If we end up needing more parking for robot cars in 2030, by all means build robot-only lots, but I’d rather see us make do with what we’ve got already.


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