Rivian’s signature “Tank Turn” feature has been formally delayed. While the feature itself is unique and sets apart the R1T and R1S from both combustion-powered and all-electric rivals, “Tank Turn” simply proved to be far too complex and tricky to make it to the flagship pickup truck’s launch.
The Rivian R1T’s “Tank Turn” demonstration caught the internet’s attention in December 2019, mainly due to its undeniable cool factor. Using the R1T’s quad-motor setup, “Tank Turn” allowed the all-electric pickup truck to spin in place by having the motors and wheels on one side rotating forward and the motors and wheels on the other side rotating backwards simultaneously.
The concept for “Tank Turn” seemed simple enough. However, the feature proved much harder to program than expected, according to a statement from R1T chief engineer Charles Sanderson to MotorTrend. As it turned out, getting vehicles to perform smooth “Tank Turns” consistently and safely was no joke. The company’s video from 2019 represented the best-case scenario, and Sanderson noted that the Rivian team was lucky enough to capture it on the first try.
Sanderson explained that unless conditions are perfect, each wheel in the R1T and R1S can have a different amount of grip. This meant that some wheels would require more or less power to break traction and initiate the “Tank Turn” maneuver. Putting too much or too little power on a specific wheel during a “Tank Turn” could result in the vehicle spinning off in one direction instead of in place, which could easily be a safety issue.
There were also challenges with the R1T and R1S’ wheelbase. Since the distance between the front and rear axles was not the same as the distance between the wheels on either side of the vehicle, there were times when “Tank Turn” ended up rotating off-center. The R1T and R1S also end up in the mercy of physics once the wheels break traction, so any imperfections on the surface, such as a slight incline, could result in the vehicle sliding in one direction as it spins. The speeds involved in “Tank Turn’s” spinning movement are no joke as well, so drivers and passengers may end up feeling nauseous.
While the R1T and the R1S will not have “Tank Turn” when they are released, the company’s engineers are working hard to ensure that the signature feature is as safe as possible when it gets rolled out. For now, however, Sanderson noted that the majority of Rivian’s resources are focused solely on the smooth rollout of the R1T, R1S, and its all-electric custom Amazon delivery vans.
Watch the video demonstration of Rivian’s “Tank Turn” feature below!