Autonomous Vehicles, Hyperloop to Amplify Disruption of Built Environment

Dave Clute, chief marketing officer of intelligent building management platform CohesionIB, shared insights about the growing impact of transportation-related technology on real estate at Realcomm in Las Vegas.
Dave Clute

Dave Clute is the chief marketing officer of CohesionIB, an intelligent building management platform. With 35 years of experience in architectural engineering, Clute brings a unique perspective to the commercial real estate and technology sectors. At Realcomm in Las Vegas, he shared insights around the impact of technology on transportation and parking demands.

What’s your take on the pace of innovation within and outside of the real estate industry? 

Clute: (Technology) is accelerating very quickly, and not only in the transportation industry but (also) in the corporate real estate industry at large. There’s going to be a tremendous impact of autonomous vehicles (AVs) on the built environment.

Specifically with how the built environment interacts with transportation systems—cars, rail, airlines. Within the central business districts, where we used to build parking garages, we’re now going to have to build high-density parking storage systems for self-driving cars and autonomous vehicles.

It’s going to radically change how we design the built environment, particularly in high-density office buildings, retail, residential and commercial buildings. Parking garages as we know them are going to change dramatically in the next three to five years.

Instead of driving in traffic, you’ll be riding in comfort in an AV. It’ll be a much more seamless experience. The whole digital lifestyle that will extend from your home to the transportation system, into the coffee shop, lobby areas and building reception before you go into your workspace.

What do you anticipate will be the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the real estate industry in the coming months?

Clute: I think where AI will take hold first is in some of manual processes that are very labor intensive and repetitive in nature, and it will be very similar to what happened in the migration from paper-based systems and processes to paperless environment.

You’re already seeing things like Alexa and Siri taking over some of the redundant process. I think we’ll see the same impact on corporate real estate. Bit by bit, you’ll see some of the processes being taken over by AI. It’s going to take a while but I think it will begin to gradually fall into some of the things we see as routine business processes in the coming years.

How might the increasing prevalence of AVs impact corporate real estate owners and developers? 

Clute: (The rise of AVs) is going to impact how owners and developers of corporate real estate design, build and operate buildings.

With this new form of transportation becoming more available, it’s going to impact the way architects and engineers design buildings because they’re going to have a whole new form of transportation (interacting) with the building.

The way that people exit from one form of transportation into the built environment is going to change, (affecting) the entrances, lobby areas and parking. Along with the new transportation, new building types will evolve.

We don’t know what this will look like yet because it will be a whole new building type, which will evolve over the next 5-10 years.

What other transportation-related advances are occurring, and how might those take shape this year and next?  

Clute: Although the Hyperloop has received a great deal of press, there are other forms of similar transportation known as evacuated tube systems or skates, as well as new boring systems, that don’t require a vacuum inside of a tube to travel. You’ll start to see variants of Hyperloop tubes, evacuated tubes, underground systems, new boring systems and a new generation of supersonic jets to preplace the Concord, as well as air taxis.

How do these technological shifts play out at the property level? 

Clute: Other types of buildings that will be associated with supporting (innovative transportation systems) include data centers, terminal buildings, utility buildings, power supply and distribution.

We’ll start to see specialized building types that support Hyperloop networks and tube systems, but they’ll be kind of in the background, housing equipment, power systems and other types of utility support facilities to support these new AV and transportation systems.

In addition to the developments that are taking place with these transportation system, there’s whole new wave of automation and systems needed to support these new building types. Intelligent buildings have been around for a while, but (now), there’s a need for new types of mobile applications and web portals that support intelligent buildings, which I predict will (no longer) be a special building type in three to five years. People will expect that their buildings are already smart, that the sensor networks, intelligent lighting systems and amenities are the norm, but it’s going to be a while until the 95 percent of buildings out there that aren’t smart yet, (catch up).

Given these trends, how should the industry approach automation?

Clute: Something I learned early in my career (is that) it’s not really about the technology first. People get excited about the technology because it’s fun and exciting, but I’ll go back to basic fundamentals. It’s people, process and tools—in that order. If you’ve got the right people driving the right process, the technology will (become) a third priority.

It’s most important to get the people who are knowledgeable, understand what the business needs are and can articulate and translate that into real requirements, (as well as) get the business processes nailed down before you decide what type of automation you need.