As it approaches a construction area marked by an orange cone and a giant yellow arrow, it moves gently around the area, waiting for another vehicle to pass to the right before continuing. . It sped past an illegally parked truck at a sharp angle to the curb. And it did stop several times to pedestrians who looked like they were about to cross the street, although this often came as a shock to rear-seat passengers. It also has a habit of running slowly in the middle of an empty block for unknown reasons. Maybe it saw something I didn’t – over and over again.
Then, on our way back to the restaurant, about a five-mile ride, we drove west on Geary Avenue, hoping to turn left onto Van Ness Avenue, a main road.
We were interested in how the car would handle at the intersection, one of the busiest corners in the city – and one that, it turns out, with serious pedestrian traffic near 9:30 Tuesday night. Most of the time, the car appeared to be on a side road rather than the main road, driving well in heavy traffic and making an unprotected left turn. As we approached Van Ness, however, vehicles lined up both ahead and behind us. Suddenly, the car was told to turn around and pull over to the side of the road.
“A potential collision has been detected,” said the monstrous voice.
Just before the car pulled over, Mr. Henry rolled down the window halfway and placed his iPhone on the edge of the glass on a small tripod. The idea is to have a better view of what is happening in front of the car. After the trip, a Cruise spokesman said the move terrified the car. One leg of the tripod was already outside the glass.
The company says its cars pull over to the curb if an object “unsafely protrudes” from the vehicle or if someone tries to climb out of the window. But this usually won’t happen, the company said, if a passenger places their hand out the window a short distance and waves at a friend.
The cars are designed to get ahead when something goes wrong. In April, police officers stopped a Cruise vehicle after noticing its headlights were not on and the vehicle appeared to back away from officers as they approached its window. It was pulling over to the curb – like when it spotted an iPhone on a tripod.