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Rivian’s self-driving future in focus at Amazon’s re:MARS 2019 event

(Image: Rivian}

Rivian is attending Amazon’s re:MARS 2019 event this week, an information and networking conference sponsored by the online retail giant focused on artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and other related Earth and space technologies, including self-driving.

The latest research, scientific advancements, and industry innovations are shared during four-days of networking, keynotes, and information sessions, and speakers from companies such as Walt Disney Imagineering and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are on the schedule. The event takes place from June 4-7 at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Amazon re:MARS Twitter account posted a tweet announcing Rivian’s appearance, which was then retweeted by CEO RJ Scaringe. “What happens when you combine a thirst for adventure with automotive tech and AI? Meet the world’s first Electric Adventure Vehicle at #reMARS to find out,” it said. The tweet was also tagged with “#alexaauto”, possibly indicating Rivian’s inclusion of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in its upcoming R1T truck and R1S SUV. Another electric car maker has already opted for this route – China’s Byton has Alexa integrated into its vehicle operating system.

re:MARS stands for Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics, and Space, and the event is described on its website as follows:

re:MARS brings together innovative minds with diverse skill sets who share an inventors spirit, a builders mentality, and a desire to use AI to initiate change and shape the future. The event is designed for business leaders and technical builders (including developers, engineers, data scientists, ML [machine learning] experts, and roboticists) who translate customer problems into real-world technology solutions using AI.

Given re:MARS’s description, Rivian’s plans for including self-driving in its R1T and R1S make its presence particularly relevant to the focus of the event. The camera and radar hardware on Rivian’s production vehicles will be capable of Level 3 autonomous driving that’s upgradable via over-the-air software updates. The initial vehicles will ship with Level 2 capabilities and use data accumulated from its customers’ driving sent to the cloud to develop its Level 3 transition.

Amazon has also invested heavily into Aurora, a self-driving startup led by ex-Tesla and ex-Google executives, and an information session hosted by the company as part of the re:MARS event. Rivian’s self-driving plans could possibly cross over with Aurora’s autonomy developments as both companies share an Amazon business linkage. The description of the Aurora information session is as follows:

The Future of Self-Driving Technology: Aurora is improving self-driving technology with the Aurora Driver, the computer system that powers and coordinates signals from its perception system to control vehicles of different makes, models and classes. Hear from Aurora to better understand the role of AI in self-driving technology and the longstanding impacts of self-driving cars for our future.

A map of re:MARS’s tech showcase location shows Rivian mingled with Alexa & iRobot | Smart Home, and Cybic, an electric bike company using Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant.

Amazon’s re:MARS tech showcase map. | Image: Amazon

Amazon’s $700 million dollar investment into Rivian also likely plays a part in Rivian’s appearance at re:MARS. CEO Jeff Bezos recently referred to the electric car industry as “fascinating” and said he was excited to participate in its developments along with vehicle connectivity. Specifically referring to Rivian, he complimented Scaringe, saying he’s “one of the most missionary entrepreneurs I’ve ever met.”

RJ Scaringe has made reference to Rivian’s vehicles hosting self-guided tours fashioned like those seen in the classic 90s movie Jurassic Park. Given Amazon’s investment in the all-electric startup and the car maker’s subsequent appearance at an Alexa-focused event, perhaps the Rivian AI tour guide won’t be modeled after a classic Hollywood actor and narrator after all, an idea which was admittedly driven by imagination to begin with. “The voice you’re now hearing is Richard Kiley. Heh, we’ve spared no expense!” Richard Hammond, the fictional owner of Jurassic Park, exclaims in the movie while the tour group advanced through the dinosaur exhibits. Alexa, take me to the Tyrannosaurus rex, anyone?

While Rivian’s presence at Amazon’s re:MARS event hasn’t yet produced many details to confirm any speculations, it’s at the very least a nod towards the company’s exciting, technology-driven future.

Rivian’s self-driving future in focus at Amazon’s re:MARS 2019 event
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