Speaker Todd Lohman views future with self-driving cars

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By Mark Ambrogi

Will self-driving cars be the wave of the future? Many believe so.

Todd Lohman, vice president of Walker Parking Consulting, discusses autonomous vehicles at OneZone Chamber luncheon April 18 at Ritz Charles in Carmel (Photo by Mark Ambrogi)

Todd Lohman, vice president and managing principal of the Indianapolis office of Walker Parking Consulting, discussed the options that might be available if the self-driving vehicles or autonomous vehicles become prevalent April 18 at the OneZone Chamber luncheon at Ritz Charles in Carmel.

Some of the impediments could be affordability, regulatory, insurance and liability, economic impact with loss of jobs, ethics of programming and cybersecurity.

“The idea is to do some prudent parking planning now so if it does come, you are prepared for it in the future without making major changes to adopt it,” Lohman said. “If you are designing a surface lot, do you have the length for a pick and drop area? If it’s a garage, do you have the ability to have more dense parking? Clients are asking what do they need to do to prepare for it, asking, ‘What can I do now that will help me in the future?’ It’s a lot of crystal ball work, obviously.”

Lohman discussed how some parking facilities might look for a way to convert the space if it is not needed in the future.

Lohman said the Carmel Arts & Design District might be a popular place for a self-driving car because of meal and entertainment options.

“These work-play areas will have a big impact,” Lohman said. “Currently, you might take your car and it will just sit there for three hours and it’s taking up a spot. Now other people might be able to go there and use that spot multiple times while my car sits there for three hours.”

Lohman said Uber and Lyft might eventually benefit from autonomous vehicles because it would eliminate labor costs.

“I’ve heard that Volvo’s goal is to have an autonomous vehicle on the road in Europe sometime this summer,” he said.

Lohman said 94 percent of all crashes are caused by driver error.

So, safety should be higher, once the number of the self-driving vehicles increase.

“The average life of a car is 11 years, so it’s going to take a lot of time to get fully adopted,” Lohman said.

Plus, it’s unknown how long it will take for the cars to become affordable to the average driver.

Lohman said the autonomous cars could help older drivers and those with disabilities.

Another way self-driving vehicles could be valuable is in taking children to their various practices or activities.

“When my kids were young, I felt my full-time job was being a taxi driver,” Lohman said.

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