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Self-driving mobile homes: how driverless cars will change the property market
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Self-driving mobile homes: how driverless cars will change the property market

Self-driving mobile homes are to become commonplace in the next 20 years Alexandra Savina / Tranio

Autonomous vehicles are already a reality. Driverless taxis already exist in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Singapore. An unmanned truck has made its first delivery in Colorado, while, in London, an autonomous minibus has been successfully tested.

BMW, Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen promise to introduce self-driving cars to the market by 2020–2021. According to the estimates by BI Intelligence, there will be ten million cars fully or partially equipped with autonomous control devices by the early 2020s.

Self-driving passenger cars will be the first to enter the market, followed by buses and heavy goods vehicles and, finally, by mobile homes as a more complex type of vehicle. Experts at Tranio.com estimate self-driving mobile homes to become commonplace by as early as 2035–2040. This will affect lifestyles and the residential real estate market significantly.

What autonomous mobile homes will be like

The first mobile homes appeared in the 1950s and today the United States alone sells over 40,000 of them annually. These vehicles look like buses or trucks on the outside but like houses on the inside, with kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms.

Nowadays, motorhomes in the US are offered at prices ranging from $4,000–5,000 for a 1980s model to $3 million for a new, luxurious motorhome equipped with modern appliances.

In the future, mobile homes will be equipped with autonomous control systems. in addition, buyers will be able to purchase devices separately to equip previous generation motorhomes with autonomous capabilities. According to Quartz, self-driving equipment today costs $8,000–10,000 on average.

Even today, multimillion-dollar motorhomes can compete with the comforts of conventional residential properties. They are kitted out with all kinds of amenities: washing machines and dishwashers, TVs, "smart home" systems that manage appliances, underfloor heating and air conditioning to name but a few. The comforts of such mobile home have become so enticing that celebrities like Will Smith and Ashton Kutcher use them while filming.

The driver-less mobile homes of the future will also come with all these conveniences, in addition to:

  • internet and satellite communication capabilities;
  • good suspension to offer the smoothest ride possible;
  • maximum sound proofing;
  • solar panels and electric drives: motorhomes will run on solar energy and electricity, increasing demand for electric vehicle charging stations.

Self-driving mobile homes will most likely be slower than conventional motorhomes and HGVs, at least initially. However, there will be no special need for speed, as the car will keep running while the passengers are asleep. For the trips to become safer, special, unmanned vehicle may need their own road lanes.

The interior design of the vehicle will probably change too: as there will be no need for a driver, the space in the front part of the car will be free. Overall, mobile homes will become more spacious and ergonomic.

How this will affect people's lifestyles and the residential real estate market

Thanks to self-driving homes, people will have more spare time and opportunity for travelling. Such a means of transport will have various uses, with the most important being:

1. Commuting

Imagine that, in the evening, you have a barbecue in the forest far out of town, at night, you fall asleep outdoors, under billions of stars, and when you wake up in the morning, your mobile home is already standing in traffic on its way to your office. You are having breakfast while the vehicle is running, and by the time you have had a shower and got dressed, it drops you off at the office door and you come to work beaming. In the evening, the mobile home picks you up from work, and you go back to the countryside. En route you relax while having supper, watching a film or reading a book.

Thanks to self-driving homes, people will have more spare time, but there will also be a side effect: such vehicles are going to reduce real estate liquidity, especially in the peripheral areas. Many will prefer mobile homes to cheap flats, especially if facing a choice between living in one and commuting from the suburbs to the centre by train every day. In addition, self-driving mobile homes will most likely be cheaper to rent than conventional flats. Properties in central locations will be less subject to the risk of losing their liquidity, as they are situated within walking distance of offices and other key facilities.

2. Travelling

Now imagine that you are a freelancer travelling in your mobile home across America. the vehicle drives itself whilst you are working. You arrive at an interesting place, step out, enjoy beautiful views, visit cafes and museums and continue your way. Over six months you journey across the entire continent without wasting any time driving.

Another option is going on family holidays in your mobile home: setting off in the evening, sleeping 10–12 hours and then waking up in the morning in Las Vegas or at Disneyland.

Andrew M. Ryan, author and blogger, calculated that a tourist would have to rent 30 hotel rooms and pay 60 restaurant bills to see the main landmarks of 48 American states. a usual American road trip in a car costs $6,212, whereas a self-driving mobile home journey would cost $2,312 (i.e., 2.5 times cheaper). Autonomous self-driving mobile homes will make travelling both more comfortable and more cost-efficient. This will probably lead to fewer people staying at hotels and renting flats for short terms.

3. Flashmobs and festivals

Several hundred mobile households may agree to meet somewhere in Nevada or Arizona via social networks and organise an enormous party. Alternatively, a hundred of these vehicles could have a massive barbecue on the outskirts of the city where a travelling restaurant has stopped. Other cars of this type may be turned into portable, self-service bars and shops.

People will certainly continue living in conventional houses and flats, but a significant proportion of young people may share the desire to live in self-driving mobile homes temporarily due to their mobility and affordability.

Purchasing mobile homes on credit will be popular too. The absence of a property tax in the USA for vehicles that remain on wheels and cannot be converted into static trailer homes will become a stimulus.

George Kachmazov, managing partner at Tranio

Originally published on remonline.com

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