The startup electric automaker already filed the patent way back in June of 2019. In addition, we've heard various mentions of Rivian's plans for autonomous vehicles. Now, we have a better idea of what may lie ahead.
As first reported by our good friends at Teslarati, Rivian's plans for its "Guardian Mode" feature are such that it will be able to safely transport people who cannot drive on their own. Essentially, we're talking about a robot/computer chauffeur of sorts. The patent explains (via Teslarati):
“Modem autonomous vehicle technology allows an autonomous vehicle to transport passengers between destinations without being directly controlled by a human driver. Consequently, it is now possible for an autonomous vehicle to transport a user who is not fully competent (e.g., a child user, a senior citizen user, or a mentally challenged user) without a fully competent user being present. However, in such a situation, a user who is not fully competent may misuse the capabilities of the autonomous vehicle while in transit. Such misuse may lead to undesirable situations (e.g., a child requesting to go to a wrong location), or even dangerous situations (e.g., a child opening a door while the car is still in motion, or a child unbuckling a seat belt). Consequently, what is needed is an autonomous vehicle with a mode of operation that is appropriate for transporting users who are not fully competent.”
The proposed technology would provide someone like a handicapped person, a child, or a senior citizen who's unable to drive the option to "request" a ride. There would not need to be an actual human driver present and piloting or "babysitting" the vehicle. In addition, the occupants would have some control of various vehicle features. According to the patent's abstract:
"Systems and methods are provided herein for operating an autonomous vehicle. A destination is received from a user. A mode selection input is also received from a user. A selected route is determined based on the destination input. In response to determining that the mode selection input identifies a regular driving mode, the autonomous vehicle is operated to travel along the selected route in the regular driving mode. In the regular driving mode at least one capability of a first plurality of capabilities of the autonomous vehicle is enabled. Further, in response to determining that the selection of the mode identifies a guardian mode, the autonomous vehicle is operated to travel along the selected route in the guardian mode. In the guardian mode at least one capability of a first plurality of capabilities of the autonomous vehicle is disabled."
While this all seems very similar to many upcoming autonomous driving systems, and perhaps much like Tesla's Full Self-Driving capability, Rivian seems to be choosing to market it in a different light. It reads more like a safety system to assist those in need than a technology to make driving easier for already competent drivers or provide them with "break" from piloting.
What do you think of Rivian's potential Guardian Mode? Scoot on over to the RivianChat forum and let us know.