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I'm not sure why anyone needs their car to unlock and their door handles to come out when they are still 6+ feet away from the vehicle.
I have read many complaints about how long it takes for the Rivian to unlock via a key fob or key card - sometimes 15 seconds or more. Rivian even says in the owners manual that it may take "up to 8 seconds" to unlock if the vehicle is asleep.

Given that, I suspect that the phone proximity was made very sensitive so the Rivian would detect your presence from as far away as possible, giving it time to wake up and unlock by the time you reached your vehicle. Note I have no first-hand information that this is true - I am just speculating.

The problem with that strategy is:
  • All phones are different - the maximum signal strength and range will depend on the brand and model of the phone.
  • The signal strength varies greatly with the orientation of the phone. The detection range can easily drop by a factor of two or more just because of the orientation.
Thus, trying to detect at "maximum range" ensures that the proximity key functions in an unpredictable and inconsistent manner, not only from user to user, but even for the same user the unlock distance will vary greatly. And that's what we see in real life.

Setting the minimum signal strength for unlock to a much higher value means you will have to be closer to the car before it unlocks. Perhaps very close. But it comes with the tradeoff that your car will probably not be unlocked by the time you reach it, which would mean an entirely separate set of complaints. No one wants to have to stand next to an unlocked car for 15 seconds looking stupid and waiting for it to open automatically ...

IMO the real problem here is how they are handling the signal. If it takes "up to 8 seconds" to respond that implies they are periodically scanning for signals, using the main computer (?). That's a bad strategy, both for responsiveness and for energy use, but they might not be able to do better with the current hardware. I personally would have done this with an extremely low-power dedicated circuit which could wake up when a signal strength exceeds threshold, and then go back to sleep after attempting to authenticate. That sort of a circuit would respond in microseconds and takes so little power (<1 microamp) that it could run on a coin cell for many years. If they're already doing this, then I don't know why the responsiveness is so bad.
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