Rivian got lots of great publicity after it showed off an early R1T prototype doing a tank turn, basically spinning the wheels on one side of the vehicle in one directions, and the others on the other side in the opposite direction, in order to essentially turn the vehicle on a dime, exactly like a tank. Now even though that feature is still not implemented in production vehicles, Rivian is apparently working on another similar feature.

As discovered by Dirty_B on the Rivian Forums, the manufacturer applied for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for what it calls “Dig Mode” and it’s a lot weirder than the tank turn. This new mode makes full use of the top tier Rivian four-motor configuration, with one driving each wheel, to again spin wheels in different directions in order to allow the vehicle to make a very sharp turn.

According to the patent filing with the USPTO, these

Systems and methods are provided herein for operating a vehicle in a front dig mode. The front dig mode is engaged in response to determining that speed of the vehicle is below a speed threshold and determining that the amount that at least one of the front wheels of the vehicle is turned exceeds a turn threshold. While operating in the front dig mode, forward torque is provided to the front wheels of the vehicle. Further, resistance is applied to forward rotation of the inner back wheel of the vehicle. Yet further, forward torque is provided to the outer back wheel of the vehicle.

Now because it’s called Dig Mode, we presume it could also be used when the vehicle is stuck, in order for it to dig itself out of a hole. With the front wheels, as well as the outer back wheel pulling forward while the inner rear wheel has brakes applied to it, allowing the vehicle to pivot around its vertical axis more easily. 

Rivian only explains how it works, not really what use cases might be suitable for it, although it does go into detail regarding the modes it can operate under in the patent filing, which is actually from November, 2019, so it’s not recent, but it seems it was only now discovered. However, since we’ve not heard the manufacturer mention this dig mode, as well as the fact that the tank turn is still not yet implemented, it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll actually see this Dig Mode in production.

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