Rivian Removes Driver Monitoring Camera From Its Vehicles for a Bizarre Reason

Rivian removes the driver monitoring camera 6 photos
Photo: Rivian
Rivian rolls out a feature-packed updateRivian rolls out a feature-packed updateRivian R1T and R1SRivian R1T and R1SRivian R1T and R1S Interior
Hidden inside the release notes of the recent 2023.22.00 update, there was a surprising mention of the driver monitoring camera being deactivated. Rivian explained the decision and said it would build future vehicles without this safety feature, at least for a while.
Driver-assist technologies can help when the driver fails to take the appropriate measures in dangerous situations. Most of the time, this is because the driver is distracted. The most popular systems are automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-centering systems, but carmakers usually offer many more helpers for those willing to pay for the technology.

With so many features that appear to drive the car themselves, drivers tend to lose sight of the road and engage in other activities. This is even more dangerous than not having the safety assist helpers in the first place. That's why carmakers introduced so-called driver monitoring features to ensure the driver stays alert throughout the trip. These can range from capacitive zones to sense when there's no hand on the steering wheel to driver monitoring cameras that track drivers' eyes and warn when they appear distracted or not in control.

Rivian also uses a driver monitoring camera and capacitive zones on the steering wheel. This ensures drivers continue to watch the traffic even when the Driver+ safety-assist system controls the vehicle. Surprisingly, the EV startup deactivated the driver-monitoring camera in the latest software update, 2023.22.00. Although it promised this decision would not impact the safety or functionality, it was still intriguing.

Days later, Rivian posted an official explanation on its website. According to the article, the carmaker also decided to physically remove the cabin camera from R1T and R1S vehicles starting this summer. Rivian explained that "the existing camera position and viewing angle do not meet the performance requirements." It also said that driver monitoring will continue via other sensors "embedded throughout the R1T and R1S."

Although Rivian's explanation doesn't say much, people on the Rivian subreddit shared more details. More specifically, the camera position and viewing angle were so poorly designed that the image mainly showed the lower half of the driver's seat. Rivian announcement implies that the company is looking to install higher-performance cameras in a better position in the cabin for future models. It's unclear whether this means R2 vehicles or future versions of the R1 lineup, too.

It's hard to understand how Rivian could mess up such a simple task as ensuring the camera sees the driver's eyes. Some even suspect this is just another cost-cutting measure, similar to the ones that got the 12-volt sockets removed and the Meridian sound system replaced with a Rivian equivalent. This could be the case, considering that Rivian did not intend to reposition the camera and instead decided to remove it completely from future vehicles.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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