Things are getting exciting as Rivian gears up for the production and delivery of its electric vehicles starting in June this year. The car has been received with overwhelming praise from fans and EV lovers all around the world. Customers can’t wait to receive their orders.
The carmaker has built itself to be a formidable force in the E-V industry even though they are still to release a single car to the market.
The futuristic R1T is an all-electric pickup truck is the company’s Rivian’s first truck, and the R1S is Rivian’s first SUV. The SUV promises between 250 and 400 miles of driving range and lightning-quick acceleration. The R1S SUV will be amongst the first full-sized family electric SUV with similar specs and a spacious and futuristic interior in the EV market.
With all those great specs, Rivian has in my opinion fallen short in one aspect, Autonomous driving capability. Rivian says every model will be outfitted with hands-free driver-assistance technology in what they call Driver+. Key safety features are likely to include: Standard automated emergency braking, Standard lane-departure warning, Standard adaptive cruise control, Warranty, and Maintenance Coverage.
A prospective Rivian guide talked about the Driver+ feature on the Rivian.
From the interview, the Driver Plus system will available at launch, and hardware for level 2 Autonomy will be on the vehicle at launch. Full level 2 driving will be available in the future via an OTA software update as soon as the technology is finalized.
The features available at launch include
- Active Driving Assistance is a combination of automatic steering, braking, and acceleration capabilities but only on select highways.
- Adaptive Cruise Control will Set your speed and automatically accelerate or brake on highways, adjusting speed to keep an appropriate distance from vehicles in front of you.
- Lane Centering is a form of assisted steering to keep you centered within your lane.
- Lane Change Assist helps you change lanes on the highway.
- Trailer Assistance, Helps with more difficult reverse maneuvers while you have a trailer attached.
Active Safety and Collision warning alerts include.
- Forward Collision Warning Which Warns you of potential collisions with people and cars ahead.
- Automatic Emergency Braking Applies the brakes to help mitigate or prevent a collision.
- Dynamic Brake Support Automatically supports your braking to help mitigate or prevent a collision.
- Blind Spot Warning Detects vehicles in your blind spots and warns you if you try to move into the lane.
- Lane Departure Warning: Warns you if you drift too close or cross lane markers without a turn signal on.
- Lane Keeping Assistance: Helps steer you back into your lane if you unintentionally drift close to or over a lane marker without a turn signal.
- Automatic Emergency Steering Helps steers you back into your lane if you drift too close to the edge of the road or it detects a potential collision, with or without a turn signal.
- Rear-Cross Traffic Warning Alerts you to traffic and people approaching from the side when backing up.
- Automatic High Beams Automatically switches the headlights from high to low beams when a vehicle is detected ahead.
- These are great features in the driver+ bundle but are still below what Tesla’s full self-driving technology offers or intends to offer.
Rivian originally planned on a full self-driving system for its cars but gradually changed to the driver assistance feature. They removed all mentions of LiDAR from their site which was the technology they were going to use for the project, dashing hopes of any full self-driving options for the Rivian R1T and the R1S cars for now or the feature.
The capabilities of the system that Rivian describes suggests it is a Level 2 system as designated by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the SAE International. Level 2 is a partial autonomous driving system which means the system can perform two or more parts of the driving task under the supervision of the driver. To support this level of driving for Rivian Vehicles, the system will be powered by two redundant compute platforms, 12 ultrasonic sensors, 10 exterior cameras, five radars, and high-precision GPS. This essentially gives the vehicle 360-camera and radar visibility. It’s a robust suite of hardware that exceeds what Tesla uses for its driver assistance system. The hardware suite is similar to GM’s hands-free Super Cruise system, with the exception that Rivian appears to have more cameras.
Developing a full self-driving or Level 4 autonomous system would not have been anywhere close to ready at launch and Rivian knew that. The logistics it would entail; the number of billions of miles it would take to train the system is nowhere possible to achieve with test cars.
It would need hundreds of thousands of cars on the roads, sending back data that can be used to train such a system. This can only be feasible only when deliveries begin and the cars get to the hands of customers.
That would mean Rivian would not bear the financial or logistical burden for the miles needed to train these autonomous systems because users would cover the cost by paying to charge their cars as they normally would.
Rivian, has, however, acknowledged that their vehicles would not be very enticing to new buyers without any form of driver assistance seeing that the main automaker they aim to compete with, tesla, is currently developing a very advanced autonomous driving experience for its cars. And these systems are already partially deployed to Teslas around the world.
So Rivian set out to create the Driver plus feature that can be fast to develop, taking advantage of supporting systems like GM high-quality mapped roads. I would say the driver plus is a placeholder for a Rivian full driving system to come in the future.
Oliver Jeromin, Rivian’s Associate Director of Self-Driving, recently shed some light on the matter during an interview with TechCrunch.
“We want to embrace the challenge,” Jeromin said in response to a question over Rivian’s goal of bringing Level 3 autonomous driving to its vehicles versus other approaches. “There are mobility companies that are working on Level 4, and they’re looking at it kind of from the top-down, coming from 4 or 5 for more fleet applications possibly… We want to get a feature into our customer’s hands sooner than possibly some of those other systems might be fully vetted,” he said.
This response shows the Driver + system is developed on a time-sensitive basis, what can we do in terms of driving assistance that we can launch in a few months as opposed to a full self-driving technology which will take years if not decades to develop.
We thus speculate that Rivian is preparing to launch a full self-driving capability sometime in the far future.
Images of a Rivian R1T pickup truck with a LiDAR rig have recently emerged online. The vehicle, which was covered in one of Rivian’s camouflage wraps, was photographed in Robmar Drive in Los Angeles. The R1T in the recently shared images was fitted with a prominent LiDAR sensor at its roof. Interestingly, the LiDAR used in the R1T looked quite similar to the spinning units utilized by autonomous driving company Waymo and quite different to the static Luminar LiDAR units used by Tesla.
This means they are still working on full self-driving because the application of lidar is mostly for full self-driving technology.
Rivian is also building a driver monitoring system into its cars that will watch drivers and determine if driver inputs are intentional or not.
“We’re building a driver-monitoring system so it’s not just one sensor like a torque input sensor – like if a driver actually wants to disengage the longitudinal and lateral controller,” Jeromin explained. “They’re going to be a driver-monitoring camera, and there’s also going to be hands-on wheel sensors.”
In other words, Rivian’s full self-driving system will ignore driver input unless it is determined to be intentional. A Level 3 self-driving system can handle most aspects of driving, so if a driver wants their vehicle to behave differently than its programming is carrying out, the car will use the camera and sensors in the cabin to determine whether to proceed. If, say, the wheel is bumped from the driver shifting around in their seat for some reason, the safety procedures will know it was an accident.
We hope full self-driving technology comes to Rivian cars sooner than later. For the cars Rivian plans to deliver from June, We suspect full self-driving capabilities will not be possible for these early delivery cars because Lidar has been removed except, however, Rivian wants to use vision for the development of its autonomous dring technology just like tesla does. As of now, there is no information from Rivian regarding vision technology for a full self-driving system.