Here's a good read on the innovation happening over at Rivian
THE NEVER-ENDING ROAD TRIP
Continuous innovation makes driving better, today and down the road
A small crowd gathered around the Rivian test vehicle as it charged in a shopping center parking lot outside Washington, D.C.

The truck was driven by a team of Rivian software and test engineers working together to pressure test future generations of vehicle technology. That morning, when they stopped for coffee and top off their charge, they were more than halfway into a 10,000-mile road trip around the United States.

Driving the world’s first Electric Adventure Vehicle on a cross-country journey means stops often morph into meet-and-greets with the curious and excited. The road trip’s two most frequent conversation openers from people along the way were: “Is that a Rivian?” and “Are you storm chasers?”

“It’s always been my favorite part, just interacting with the public and hearing feedback from people,” says Matt Krzywicki, a senior test and validation manager for Rivian’s self-driving group.

“It does look a little bit funny,” he concedes, laughing. “We’re driving a vehicle wrapped in camouflage, and because of what we’re doing, it is full of advanced testing equipment, including a device on the roof called a LIDAR that uses laser light to measure distances for developing new features. But I’m good with being mistaken for a storm chaser.”

They are not alone on this trip. ADAS and Autonomy development teams back at Rivian’s Palo Alto offices are analyzing a real time feed of the data. With terabytes of information streaming in, developers are updating code and sending it back – usually within a day or sometimes within hours – for further testing.

“It’s an incredible advantage, having the opportunity to create most of our technology from scratch,” says Matt.

Designing from a clean sheet, both for our vehicles and the technology that powers them, meant we could build the kind of efficient, elegant, tightly interconnected systems we knew a next-level driving experience would demand. It meant freedom from the limits and compromises of legacy automotive hardware, software, and systems. And, as Matt knows well, it means being able to design, test, iterate and innovate at remarkable speeds, something that Rivian owners will very much notice over the life of their vehicle.

“We are creating a vehicle experience that will continue to improve over time,” said Sowmya Gade, a perception software engineer who joined the road trip for a few days. “Over-the-air updates are going to let us bring a lot of new things to the customers. We’re constantly working on new things.”

Traditionally, the primary way to update your car’s software was to take it to the dealership and have them hook it up to their computer. But the ability of customers to directly download vehicle updates as well as brand new features? That’s going to be a new thing for a lot of people.

As the technology testing team wound its way up the east coast and surpassed the halfway point of their 10,000-mile road trip, Gary Fay, a senior manager of perception software, joined for a few days. Gary is here to see firsthand how his team’s software, features and functions are performing – software in various states of production for current, future and future-future generations of Rivian vehicles.

“Looking back and seeing that road from a clean sheet, from our very first line of code, to where we are today? It’s incredibly exciting,” he says.

Just then, the truck pulled up to a stop light and a man in the next lane gestured to Gary to roll down his window. “Oh hey, is that a Rivian?” the man asks. “It’s great to see!” Gary chatted with the man until the light turned green, then rolled the window up and continued with a smile on his face.

“That will never get old,” Gary says.

It’s a good thing, too, because manufacturing computers on wheels – vehicles that will evolve and optimize over their lifetime– means at any given moment, teams from across the company are dreaming up and inventing the next idea they think people will love, and other teams are out on the road testing those ideas so when they reach customers it’s an exceptional experience.

“As our technology evolves and new features are created, there will always be this loop of testing and development,” he says. “For us, technology is kind of a continuous road trip.”