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CEO Joe Derhake Talks Driverless Cars

Derhake discusses the impact driverless technology may have on the commercial real estate industry.

At the recent RealShare National Investment and Finance conference in Los Angeles, Partner Engineering and Science, Inc CEO Joe Derhake discussed the impact of new technologies on the commercial real estate industry. The presentation focused on autonomous vehicle technology, and how it is expected to change the demand and requirements for various property types.

Derhake cautioned that in order to address building obsolescence and remain competitive in this fast-moving market, it is important to stay ahead of technological advancements. “If you can see the next big technology coming, you’ll be able to make better investments,” said Derhake.

Autonomous vehicles are a reality of the future. While governmental regulation may present a hurdle to implementation in the short term, many of the world’s major automotive manufacturers – from GM to Audi, Nissan, BMW and Tesla - are projected to sell vehicles that can drive themselves by 2020. This, said Derhake, has potential to “change the real estate industry as much as the internet did”.

Derhake discussed a number of the most significant risks and opportunities this new technology may present, including changing highest and best use for assets in urban environments. For example, self-parking and self-refueling cars will render prime-location gas station and parking lots obsolete, creating a huge opportunity for redevelopment! The technology will also make commutes more tolerable, which will likely drive people to choose quality locations over proximity, while the increased capacity of our roads may cause the decline of railways and public-transport related development.

Derhake urged his audience to think about what elements in their portfolio are directly at risk of obsolescence and what new opportunities this presents for adaptive reuse projects.

In collaboration with, Partner is currently conducting a survey on how technology is affecting the real estate space. Results will be summarized in a white paper to be published in late summer, and we would love to get your insight on the subject! As thanks, you’ll have the opportunity to enter a drawing for one of three $100 American Express gift cards. (Complete contest rules are available here.)  Results from the survey are now available in the complimentary white paper, which can be downloaded here.