Rivian is road testing its EVs remotely while employees self-isolate

The company's employees are at home, but they're still conducting tests on real cars — from a distance.

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Electric car company Rivian is still conducting tests on its vehicles even though its facilities are closed and employees remain at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company published a blog post demonstrating how it's continuing the very hands-on business of building electric vehicles despite employees being restricted from, you know, getting any hands on them, let alone making them perform 360-degree on-the-spot turns.

The most interesting example of how Rivian is adapting to this new reality is in diagnostics and compliance testing. Rivian engineers are essentially sending instructions to their testing facility and watching over it through live video, with real-time data from the car sent back over the internet. Which, frankly, is just another reason to love the internet during these strange times.


"From 2,500 miles across the country, [an engineer named] Pete devised a way to remotely control diagnostic settings and stream real-time data into his computer," the company says. "Under normal circumstances, he would be at the controls in person. But with the ability to dial in whatever settings he wants from home, he was able to collect the hard data and move the program forward."

Don't call it vaporware — Rivian is a lesser-known competitor to Tesla that specializes in electric sports utility vehicles rather than sedans or hatches. The company hasn't begun selling cars to the masses but it recently inked a deal with Amazon to produce 100,000 delivery vans for the company. And, unlike Tesla, Rivian seems to take shelter-in-place orders seriously and hasn't got any plans to buy ventilators that aren't actually ventilators, which makes us inclined to believe in its intentions unless it proves our faith misplaced.

Rivian has also received a $500 million investment from Detroit automaker Ford, which will use Rivian's technology to make future electric cars of its own down the line. Probably after it's finished making actual ventilators with its friends at GM. Sure, you could call Rivian vaporware until it actually has cars rolling off production lines, but the big players certainly seem to think the company has a better shot than previous electric car failures like Fisker and Faraday Future, whose bluster amounted to nothing other than disappointment for would-be owners.

"In ordinary times, we would prefer to be in the shop or out on the trail," the blog post concludes. "But these aren’t ordinary times. We’re facing each new day with optimism, ingenuity and grit."