Real property is an enduring asset not significantly affected by fads and short-term trends, and typically it can afford to adapt gradually to technology advances. But occasionally a new technology emerges that dramatically affects real estate usage and values. History is filled with examples: Railroads paved the way for the creation of new cities, enabling the transcontinental delivery of produce; air conditioning triggered a mass migration to the South; and the Internet allows tens of millions of office workers to stay home every day rather than occupy skyscrapers in center cities. But the automobile has disrupted the use and intrinsic value of real estate more than any other invention by reshaping cities, countrysides and cultures — and this past disruption foreshadows another looming transformation in how and where we live and work. That change will be propelled by driverless vehicles.
A few years ago, most people dismissed the idea driverless cars would be on h