This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Self-driving cars and the end of parking spots


Time travel with me to the near future. Self-driving cars are as unremarkable as cell phones. No one is gasping in amazement at them any more than anyone is gasping in amazement that I am able to make a phone call without a cord on my phone, miles away from my house. It's a complex system of computers, ground positioning satellites (GPS), that sort of thing, but everyone is just taking it for granted. Cell phones and self-driving cars. And it will be the end of parking spots.

I've lived in Phoenix and Los Angeles (mostly Phoenix) all of my adult life. And most of the people I've known have driven cars. And one of the most important things in their lives has been a parking spot. It's the first thing that eager eyes look for at a destination. It's the subject of conversation. When my California friends visit me, sometimes they just can't help looking at amazement at a parking spot. Look! Right there! Near the store, or restaurant!

In Phoenix in the summer the primo parking spot is in the shade. And the summer lasts into November, so finding a parking spot like that is important!

But in the future, self-driving cars will be like elevators. You get into them, get out of them, and they go somewhere else. Seeing no driver in them will be as unremarkable as seeing no elevator operator is nowadays. I sometimes wonder how freaked out people were the first time they were asked to push a button and have an elevator throw them up several stories. No driver? Just buttons? For something that's going up hundreds of feet? I'm sure a lot of people said, "no thank you, I'll take the stairs." I've always been an early adopter to technology, I'd like to believe that I would have been among the first people to use an "automatic elevator" in Phoenix in the late '40s and early '50s.

I like to time travel. I like to imagine Phoenix when electricity first arrived, and how amazing it must have been at first, and how quickly people got used to it. And when the first car arrived in Phoenix, in 1902, there must have been a lot of people who were genuinely puzzled by it. A horseless carriage? How could that be? But in just a few years there were so many cars in Phoenix that parking spots became vitally important. And in the near future, with self-driving cars, people will wonder why there was this fascination with parking spots "back in the day".

Thanks for riding along with me.