Driveways & garages in a world of autonomous cars

Contractors may become one of Uber’s biggest cheerleaders

Supposedly it’s only a matter of time before autonomous cars arrive and transform our lives. We will go from a society of car owners to one where we seamlessly hail rides when needed. This leads to a world where we don’t need parking garages and curbside parking gets repurposed as we reach bike lane nirvana. If true, what will happen to the suburban driveway?

The suburban driveway is an integral ingredient in the American dream. It’s a path to your garage or where you proudly park your fancy car- that you probably financed. It’s a place to add a basketball hoop and a focal point of any landscape design. But how would that landscape design change if we no longer stored cars on our property? What will happen to these newly vacant garages?

Existing homeowners will struggle to fill the voids of this newly underutilized space and seek to repurpose the area. Some are arguing these spaces can help alleviate the housing crisis as garages can be transformed into living quarters. In 2016 California led the charge by allowing homeowners to convert garages to accessory dwelling units, creating a win-win scenario for both renters and ambitious homeowners seeking to create a supplemental income. [1]

New suburban developments and remodels will emphasize how unfashionable and outdated the driveway is by designing landscapes focused on the connection between the curb and home. The walkway will become the preferred venue for status seekers showcasing their unique tastes.

Those who do still want a garage will enjoy new levels of customization and utility. No longer will a garage be shaped to fit vehicles and no longer will it need to open facing the street. Garages of the future will open to become a part of the backyard, giving homeowners a new sense of privacy. These garages will be uniquely shaped to optimize their intended goal; whether as a woodshop,home gym or home brewery.

Autonomous cars are set to disrupt even more than we can imagine. Without driveways no longer will people need snow blowers or to hire a snowplow-with a much smaller area to cover it’s reasonable to assume the walkway of the future will be equipped with radiant heating. Just as the internet made the newspaper slot on a mailbox redundant and pointless so too will autonomous driving render the suburban driveway as a relic of the past.


  1. https://www.citylab.com/perspective/2019/04/convert-garage-apartments-affordable-housing-crisis-adu/587434/