Rivian is launching the R1T, the world’s first electric pickup truck. The truck includes a state-of-art Human-Machine interface built with Unreal Engine.
According to a company blog post, Rivian did not make the choice to use Unreal Engine as the base for its Human-Machine interface lightly. After in-depth testing, the company determined Unreal Engine to offer the best performance and overall style.
“We put it through an entire workload that simulates driving through traffic,” Eddy Reyes, Staff Software Engineer, In-Vehicle Experience, at Rivian, was quoted in the blog post, “We wanted to make sure that Unreal Engine running on our hardware, in a driver-assistance workload showing multiple cars on screen, would perform really well.”
The company also installed sensors on the electric truck, which Unreal Engine uses to receive data and render it on-screen in real-time. Matt Metropulos, Rivian’s Design Director of Vehicle UI, stated in the blog post, “At this early stage of autonomy, our drivers need to build trust with the vehicle. Unreal Engine allows us to visualize the vehicle reacting to real-time situations on the driver display. We do this in concert with the vehicle’s exterior sensor system.”
The Challenges of Creating The First Electric Truck
The company credits Unreal Engine with speeding up the design process. Additionally, Rivian made use of, Blueprint, Unreal Engine’s visual scripting, to quickly prototype and iterate without writing code. “There’s a lot of math involved to convert the data that you receive from the cameras into the engine,” said Reyes, “We had to go through multiple iterations until we got it right. We couldn’t have figured that out if we weren’t using Blueprint to prototype.”
Eric Wood, VP of User Experience at Rivian, explained the challenges of creating a safe HMI, stating the danger of distracting drivers and screen glare. “So, you just can’t start with a graphic design and say, ‘this is really cool,’ and then make it a driving interface—it’s so much more complex than that,” said Wood.
Rivian is among the few clients receiving early access to Varjo’s VR/XR cloud streaming platform. Additionally, the company uses the platform in tandem with Autodesk VRED to conduct vehicle design reviews.