Rivians were electric vehicles produced by a company founded shortly after Tesla produced its first electric vehicle. Both American-made electric vehicles are often compared to each other — including the self-driving features of both vehicles.
Rivians are not completely self-driving. Rivian’s have an automated driving SAE level of 2, which is the industry standard for electric vehicles, with almost no cars on the market, including Teslas, reaching level 3 or higher. However, Rivian’s Driver+ system does have many innovative driver assistance features.
Although Rivian doesn’t have the name recognition of electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla, their drive assistant features are second to none. If you’d like to know more about how this works and what makes it different, then read on.
Do Rivian Vehicles Have Self-Driving Technology?
While Rivians do have a hands-free driving feature, these are not considered fully self-driving technologies according to the SAE Levels of Autonomous Driving. While they have many driver assistance features, they are not completely self-driving yet.
However, Rivians have an in-built system called the Driver+ system, a standard safety feature program found across all their vehicles. This safety program consists of multiple smaller and more specific safety and driver assistance features. While this doesn’t technically make the vehicle completely self-driving, it does provide many automated features that bring them closer to complete automation.
What is Rivian’s Driver+ SAE Driving Level?
Rivian’s Driver+ SAE driving level reaches 2, which is the industry standard met by many competitors, including Tesla. There is only one publicly available vehicle with a higher SAE level than the Rivian fleet, a newly released Mercedes vehicle.
The Driver+ delivers “true hands-free driving”, accompanied by several driving assistance and safety features. However, Rivian emphasises that this technology will still require the full attention of the driver behind the wheel.
What Features Are Included in Rivian’s Driver+ Technology?
The Driver+ technology of Rivian vehicles is the umbrella term for a wide range of driver assistance features provided automatically by most modern Rivian models. The Driver+ system can be broken down into these various categories:
The Driving Assist system helps the driver with common road interactions that could cause accidents under certain conditions, like poor driving weather. Although this system still requires the driver’s full attention and awareness at all times, it’s effective in helping streamline the driving experience and helping to reduce accidents.
Rivian divides this system into three features:
- Lane Change Assist: This feature allows for highway merging and a safe change of lanes.
- Adaptive Cruise Control: This feature allows for the vehicle’s automatic acceleration and braking while keeping a reasonable and safe distance from other vehicles on the road.
- Highway Assist: This feature provides autonomous acceleration, steering, and braking on most highways, depending on your location.
Active Safety Assist
The Active Safety Assist feature is a collection of smaller yet crucial driver assist technologies that compliment all features under the Driver+ safety program. The Active Safety Assist provides collision warnings, alerts, and preventative actions not limited to highway driving scenarios.
This means the Active Safety Assist is always turned on and ready, regardless of where you are driving.
Similar to the Driving Assist technology, the Lane Safety feature is comprised of three systems that contribute to the overall safety of the vehicle when navigating lanes on the road, including:
- Lane Keep Assistance: This helps the driver keep the vehicle within the lane, specifically whenever the turn signals are not engaged to notify other drivers of a lane change.
- Lane Departure Warning: This will trigger a signal to the driver when they unknowingly drift too close to the lanes beside them. This will only trigger if the turn signals are not engaged or there is a detected risk of collision.
- Blind Spot Warning: This system considers the vehicle’s blind spots and warns the driver when attempting to merge into a lane with another vehicle in their blind spot.
Although it is one of the smaller safety features within the umbrella of the Driver+ technology, light safety has its own usefulness in certain situations. This feature enables the vehicle’s automatic high beams, which switch from high to low beam whenever a vehicle is detected ahead.
Parking and Reverse
The Parking and Reverse technology in Rivian cars covers three distinct safety features:
- Rear Cross-Traffic: This allows the system to alert the driver whenever there is incoming traffic or people around the driver’s blind spot when backing up.
- Park Assist: This utilises all existing sensors and radars in the vehicle to assist them while parking. This is useful when parking in tight spaces or parallel parking.
- Trailer Assist: This helps the driver whenever they are manoeuvring with a trailer attached to the vehicle. This isn’t the most used feature, but it is handy in the right circumstances.
Rivian’s Collision Mitigation is made up of three specific safety features:
- Forward Collision Warning: This feature alerts the driver when a potential collision in front of the vehicle is detected.
- Automatic Emergency Braking: This feature automatically triggers the brakes whenever a potential collision is detected. It engages after the Forward Collision Warning is ignored or the driver cannot act in time.
- Dynamic Brake Support: This feature triggers after the brakes are engaged and supports the driver to help avoid a collision.
How is Rivian’s Self-Driving Compared to Teslas?
Although Rivian’s self-driving features and technology are not as advanced as Tesla’s, they do come close as they are both considered as Level 2 in the SAE Autonomous Driving Levels. Below, we look at the features of Rivian’s vehicles and their pros and cons.
Rivian’s Driver+ Features
The Rivian’s Driver+ is a group of features covering various use-case specific safety and driver assistance features that give drivers and passengers a safe and seamless driving experience.
Pros of Rivian’s Driver+ System
Rivian’s Driver+ system has many incredible benefits, including:
- Excellent Driver Assistance – The Driving Assist gives Rivians some features such as lane changing, cruise control and highway assist that contribute to a smoother driving experience.
- Safety Alert System – The Active Safety Assist ensures that the driver gets the necessary alerts that allow them to prevent a collision.
- Lane Safety Technology – The Lane Safety feature works with the Active Safety Assist to aid the driver with keeping within the lane, departing from the lane, and blind spots that may cause a collision when merging into a lane.
- Parking and Reversing Features – Parking and Reversing becomes much easier and safer with the Parking and Reverse feature. This is handy for those who are not confident in their parking skills or are new drivers.
- Collision Mitigation – Arguably the best feature, the Collision Mitigation feature will alert the driver of possible collisions and automatically engage the brakes when necessary to prevent them.
Cons of Rivian’s Driver+ System
There are a handful of downsides to Rivian’s Driver+ system, including:
- Coverage – Unfortunately, Rivian’s Driver+ System only really works on pre-mapped roads within the vehicle. This means that the entire suite of its features, save for a few, will only work when you are on roads covered by the vehicle’s programming.
- Weather Limitations – Snow buildup over the vehicle’s radar will disable its Adaptive Cruise Control function.
- Phantom Braking – Some drivers have reported this to happen when driving over rain puddles or anything that produces reflection through water. Phantom braking is the sudden slowing down or stopping of the vehicle, even without detecting any nearby vehicles or traffic.
Tesla’s Driver Assistance System Features
Like Rivian, Tesla vehicles have their own advanced driver assistance system called the Autopilot, their counterpart to Rivian’s Driver+. The Autopilot enhances the safety and conveniences of the driver and, if used properly and as intended, will reduce the driver’s workload.
Pros of Tesla’s Driver Assistance System
There are many pros of Tesla’s Driver Assistance system, including:
- Versatility – Tesla’s Autopilot feature works everywhere, unlike most other electric vehicles (including Rivian), which can only use this feature on pre-mapped roads.
- Automatic Updates – If you opt into Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) feature, new safety and driving features relating to FSD will automatically be downloaded into your car as its development progresses.
- Lane Centring Technology – The Autopilot comes with a very good lane-centring and assistance feature that helps keep your car on the lane and corrects any drifting
- Traffic Awareness – The Autopilot also comes with a Traffic-aware Cruise Control, which detects the speed of cars around you and matches your vehicle’s speed.
- Additional Features – The Enhanced Autopilot has extra features such as autopark and smart summon to call your car out from the parking slot to meet you.
Cons of Tesla’s Driver Assistance System
There are a few noted cons with Tesla’s Driver Assistance system, including:
- Price Point – The FSD add-on is paid for and is very expensive, reaching tens of thousands of dollars.
- Phantom Braking – Instances of phantom braking have been reported, where the Tesla will slow down or come to a stop even without reason, potentially causing accidents.
- Accidents – Although very few in number, there have been publicly reported instances of the Autopilot making an error in its calculations that caused a crash.
Is Rivian’s Driver Assistance Better Than Tesla’s?
Rivian has proven itself to be a competent underdog against the more established and popular Tesla, and you will not go wrong choosing to purchase a Rivian electric vehicle. While we cannot yet say that Rivian’s Driver Assistance technology is better than Tesla’s, it’s certainly comparable.
However, what you as the customer can do is research which driver assistance features are most important to you and whether they are available to Rivian or Tesla.
Do Rivians Have Fully Automated Driving Technology?
No, Rivians do not have completely autonomous driving technology. The hands-free driving feature available to Rivians is considered driving assistance and not a fully autonomous feature. Rivians have the same SAE Level as Teslas, which has SAE Level 2, categorising them as partial automation only.
Currently, only Mercedes Benz has reached SAE Level 3, which indicates a higher level of autonomy, and even that is far from the SAE Level 6, which counts as fully automated driving technology. While fully autonomous driving has yet to be created and sanctioned, every year, we move closer to that becoming a reality.
What are SAE Driving Levels?
SAE Levels of Driving Automation is the industry reference for the driving automation of a vehicle, beginning from Level 1 (no automation) to Level 6 (full driving automation). SAE levels were created with the ISO, and are an easy way to determine the degree of “self-driving” a vehicle is capable of.
How Much is the Rivian Self-Driving Car?
The Rivian R1 T’s 2023 model’s price starts at roughly $110,000 brand new, while the older 2022 model will cost roughly $100,000. The R1S’s price begins at roughly $120,000. Of course, the exact price will depend on the model and whether it’s new or preowned.