Will Self-Driving Cars Free Up Parking Spaces?


By Dom Nozzi

March 3, 2016

There is a lot of excitement in the air about the possible emergence of large numbers of self-driving cars in our communities. One of the most loudly touted and expected benefits of this is that such cars will “free up a lot of parking spaces.”

Setting aside the legitimate question about whether self-driving cars will ever overcome the enormous design challenges they face — and I have serious doubts that they ever will — will self-driving cars create a lot of vacant parking spaces?Screenshot-2015-01-12-10.58.00

I don’t know that I can buy this.

Seems to me that unless most or all cars are self-driving, the spaces freed up by self-driving cars will induce latent demand for parking by those who drive conventional cars.

Am I missing something?

Are we forgetting about latent demand for parking?

In the past, my girlfriend, for example, would occasionally tell me she did not want to drive to a nearby coffee shop to get a cup of coffee because it was hard to find parking. What happens if, in the future, self-driving cars start freeing up spaces near the coffee shop? Won’t a lot of people be like my girlfriend and drive (and park) to get coffee?

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