“There’s a trust that we have to build and develop,” Parker said. “And that involves the heart.”
Cruise’s creative team was inspired by beloved robotic characters R2-D2 from Star Wars and Disney and Pixar’s Wall-E, Parker said.
“What was so great about those characters is that they weren’t perfect,” Parker said. “They were always, always learning, always trying to do better, always improving, and always had the best intentions, always were trying to do good for the good guys.”
As Poppy, with “self-driver in training” stamped on the exterior, begins her journey, a skateboarder rushes past, tapping her window with his hand. She comes to a stop.
Later, a mother carrying her baby daughter waits at a crosswalk, staring nervously at Poppy.
Poppy drives the streets for years more and again sees the mother and daughter, now a preschooler. The mother again eyes Poppy cautiously.
More time passes, and Poppy delivers goods to San Franciscans during the pandemic. She encounters the mother and daughter, a few years older, once more. This time, they amble in the crosswalk, knowing Poppy will wait for them, and the daughter waves. A block later, another woman hops inside Poppy for a ride.
The film depicts what Parker calls a “hero’s journey.”