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Willie Brown, former SF mayor, cruises around town in a driverless car

Former San Francisco mayor and local celebrity Willie Brown appeared in an ad for autonomous vehicle company Cruise on Monday. In the front seat? Well, no one.

In February, Cruise began offering fully autonomous rides to members of the public in San Francisco, making it the first rollout of such a service in a major U.S. city.

In the 90-second video ad, Brown can be seen riding in the back of the car alongside Cruise’s vice president of global government affairs, Prashanthi Raman. He seems quite pleased with the idea that “the car I’m in will be far safer not being driven by me.”

There are “only two times when you get to see the city,” Brown said, looking wistfully at the view outside the car window. “It’s when you are being driven or when you’re walking. If you’re driving, you can’t see the city.”

Cruise, which is a subsidiary of General Motors, has yet to release a pricing model and does not currently have a permit from the city to charge for its autonomous rides. (For now, it is offering free rides to a waitlist of users.) However, the company projects its costs will be $1 to $1.50 per mile, much cheaper than current Uber and Lyft rates.

“I love it,” Brown said. “It’s the kind of transportation that’ll make life much more comfortable for people.”

Michaela Neville can be reached at