Vice Chairman Joseph Brancato, of architecture and design firm Gensler, spoke regarding “The Future of Cities: Game-Changing Impacts of the Driverless Car,” at a meeting of commercial real estate group NAIOP New Jersey on Thursday afternoon in Newark.
“The widespread use of driverless cars is 10 to 15 years away,” Brancato said. “The automobile as we know it will be largely obsolete by 2030 to 2035.”
Private courier company UPS is already using autonomous vehicles, he said, and Tesla, an electric car manufacturer, is developing electric cars that can travel for 300 miles at once.
Predicting that gasoline cars will become extinct and replaced by electric cars, Brancato believes that 125,000 gas stations will be suitable for redevelopment. Driverless cars will be programmed to change batteries at central locations.
A further consequence of the adoption of driverless cars, is that it will impact the design of buildings. “With streets flooded by cars, there is nowhere to go but up,” he said and used Shanghai, China as an example, as well as the automobile overcrowding in New York City and the many parked cars that clog streets. “We have to design cities of the future that will prepare for this impact,” he said. Brancato also pointed to Los Angeles International Airport where 15 percent of traffic congestion is caused by ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber.
Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna said his town is ready for the challenge as Red Bank has dealt with parking problems since the era of horse and buggies of the 1890s and 1900s.
Newark Deputy Mayor Allison Ladd, who started her post on Aug. 1, 2019, said city planners will need to make contingencies for autonomous vehicles, financing and adaptive reuse.
Brancato went on to state that car ownership signals freedom and independence, and feels that in the future it will be viewed as owning a horse, “a rare luxury.”