Future of Travel

Rivian integrates AI into its next-gen vehicles—but it’s not ChatGPT

“The world will look very different before and after 2023, thanks to GenAI,” Rivian’s chief software officer told Tech Brew.
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Rivian

· 4 min read

Rivian’s newly redesigned flagship vehicles—the R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV—don’t look much different from the outside.

For the biggest changes, look deep within the vehicles’ electrical architecture, which has been reengineered to enable a host of tech enhancements—and cost reductions that are key to the EV startup’s competitiveness in a challenging market.

“It’s a major technology upgrade,” Wassym Bensaid, Rivian’s chief software officer, told Tech Brew of the second-generation R1 platform Rivian debuted on Thursday. “We’re not only improving the overall efficiency of the platform, the overall design for manufacturing, the overall serviceability, but we’re introducing many more capabilities from a tech standpoint. Those new features will pretty much have [an] impact on every single aspect of the user experience.”

Highlights include:

  • A new zonal architecture with 10 fewer electronic control units and major wiring reductions.
  • Three motor configurations, including a 1,025 horsepower quad-motor that can go from zero to 60 in less than 2.5 seconds.
  • Three battery pack options, including one that delivers an estimated 420 miles of range, and a lower-priced lithium iron phosphate pack that delivers up to 270 miles.
  • A 15% lifetime carbon footprint reduction compared to the first generation.
  • A more powerful compute module enabling the Rivian Autonomy Platform, the startup’s advanced driver assistance system that it developed entirely in-house.

The autonomy platform features 11 cameras, five radars, and AI prediction tech. The module powering the system has 10 times more compute power than the previous iteration; the cameras were also upgraded, according to Rivian.

The system will be available in both standard and premium versions. The company will add capabilities incrementally via over-the-air software updates.

The upgraded autonomy features are just the start of how Rivian plans to leverage AI in the future, Bensaid told us. But the company’s vision of autonomy appears to be different from Tesla’s; CEO Elon Musk has staked the value of the company on its evolving into an AI and robotics company as it pursues a vision of fully self-driving vehicles.

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“We really see autonomy as a journey of incremental feature addition and enhancement on the road to both safety and convenience,” Bensaid said. “We don’t see autonomy as chasing full self-driving…We see it as building features on top of the technology blocks that we have.”

Asked about how customers might expect to see AI show up in their experience—for example, some automakers are integrating ChatGPT into their vehicles—Bensaid said Rivian has “ongoing projects for integration and leveraging both traditional AI and generative AI for the in-cabin vehicle experience.” That’ll only happen when demo projects “meet the right criteria” to introduce them to customers.

“Once we’re able to master all of this,” he added, “then the possibilities are infinite.”

Bensaid declined to detail the cost reductions the Rivian team achieved through the redesign, but said it amounts to “percentages in double digits.”

Pricing for the new R1T and R1S will start at $69,900 and $75,900, respectively.

Bensaid confirmed that Rivian will apply many of the tech improvements on the second-gen R1 platform to its forthcoming, lower-priced R2 lineup. R2, he said, will introduce lidar to the autonomy platform and bring further cost reductions.

“The world will look very different before and after 2023, thanks to GenAI,” he said. “And now we’re in that critical moment where we really need to bring it home with customers in a way that they embrace the technology, that they trust the technology, and not in a way where they feel that it’s a half-baked effort.”

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

Tech Brew keeps business leaders up-to-date on the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts, and more, so they can make informed decisions about tech.