Autonomous Vehicles: Development Considerations

Fully autonomous vehicles are on the horizon, and may be the biggest change to our society in a generation. Paving the way for our clients, we look at the big picture and help navigate the potential challenges and opportunities this presents across industries.

Our approach

Car manufacturers, technology companies, regulators and engineers are working tirelessly to make autonomous vehicles a reality, shaping the future and forever altering how people will travel from one place to another. Several companies are already road testing autonomous vehicles. And many believe most auto manufacturers will have such vehicles on the road by 2020.

We are paying attention to this issue and keeping up with the most recent developments. Our cross-practice team has the experience to truly understand the intersection of how this technology will impact real estate, land use and public finance issues.

Emerging autonomous technologies could eliminate up to 80% of the 33,000 annual accidents that involve non-impaired drivers, while also making roads less congested and cars more efficient. To maximize the benefits, effectiveness and safety of autonomous vehicles, cities and states will need to establish the infrastructure foundation. Although many lawmakers are in favor of autonomous vehicles to curb traffic fatalities and travel delays, the investment needed to accelerate adoption is nearly $4 billion.

One of the biggest hurdles will be financing these transportation projects across the country, including building the infrastructure to accommodate autonomous vehicle technology and connect the cars to roadways and surrounding vehicles. Federal and state lawmakers are still researching regulations and working with automakers to craft policies and rules for autonomous vehicles.

The convenience and comfort of autonomous vehicles will profoundly impact real estate and urban planning. The technology will increase commuter tolerance for a longer travel time between home and work, which could shift the focus of development from urban core areas back to suburban areas. In addition, autonomous vehicles will be able to park themselves. Parking requirements and the high fees generated from parking lots will play a decreased role in proposed new developments. Over a longer term, self-parking cars, especially when coupled with the ever-increasing use of ride-sharing, will also force local governments to rewrite their land use laws in a manner that takes into account the effects of autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles could have endless benefits for our society but only if their adoption is coupled with proper planning and implementation. As regulators rewrite the rules of the road, we’re keeping a close eye on this new frontier and using a cross-disciplinary approach to pave the way for our clients to navigate new laws and reap the benefits of new opportunities.

 Who we work with

  • Municipalities
  • Universities
  • Real estate developers
  • Real estate lenders
  • Real estate finance partners
  • Urban developers
  • Governmental think tanks/agencies
  • Transportation agencies

The value of your home could get a big twist from autonomous cars

Forbes | June 18, 2018

Los Angeles real estate partner Justin Thompson wrote this column analyzing the potential impact of autonomous vehicles on residential real estate, including the possible end of the two-car garage.

Unintended consequences? The potential impact autonomous vehicles could have on your home

Forbes | June 18, 2018

Los Angeles Office Managing Partner Justin Thompson wrote this contributed column analyzing the potential impact of autonomous vehicles on residential real estate, including the possible end of the two-car garage.

Autonomous vehicles will change cities landscapes. Here’s how.

Forbes | October 20, 2017

Los Angeles real estate partner Justin Thompson and associate Garth Bostic authored this article about how the emergence of autonomous vehicles will impact cities, regulations and driving habits.

The future is in...a parking garage? Here's one way driverless cars will change urban development

Los Angeles Times | April 16, 2017

Los Angeles real estate partner Justin Thompson is quoted in this article about how autonomous vehicles will impact building developments and urban planning.

How drones will affect commercial real estate

National Real Estate Investor | December 23, 2016

Los Angeles Real Estate partner Justin Thompson and associate Garth Bostic co-authored this article about how drones will affect commercial real estate and property rights.

Driverless Cars Pave the Way for Real Estate Development

Law360 | April 07, 2016

Los Angeles partners Justin Thompson, Rudy Salo and associate Daniel Eliav co-authored this piece discussing the potential impact driverless technology could have on real estate development as well as infrastructure financing.


Justin X. Thompson

Office Managing Partner, Los Angeles

Phone: 213-629-6142

Bryan C. LeRoy

Co-Leader, Environment and Land Use Team

Phone: 213-629-6118

Rudy S. Salo


Phone: 213-629-6069

Seth D. Levy

Co-chair, Life Sciences Practice

Phone: 213-629-6161

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