Rivian's EVs could show the battery charge status whenever the car is plugged in.
As electric vehicle startup Rivian inches closer to starting production of the R1T pickup truck and R1S utility vehicle, the company has been making headlines aplenty. Last month alone, Rivian made the news with its revolutionary truck tailgate design, its clever battery pack construction, a patent for something called "Guardian Mode", and a video showcasing the zero-radius "tank turn" capability of its forthcoming vehicles.
Now, a newly uncovered patent application describes how Rivian's EVs could use their distinctive daytime running lights to communicate their charge status from a distance. The patent app, titled "Exterior Light and Charge Indicator", details a number of ways that the front-mounted LED strip on its vehicles could function.
In the application, published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this month, Rivian describes how it could "utilize existing exterior lighting or lighting areas to provide a charge indicator" to EV operators. The current charge status might be "indicated based on varying an intensity of the exterior light, based on illuminating a subset of the exterior lights, and/or based on an animation," the application reads in part.
Rivian's patent application also describes how the behavior of this combination exterior light/charge status indicator might vary depending on the vehicle's location, whether the vehicle is plugged in, and whether the owner is close by. For instance, the EV could be fitted with a proximity sensor so that it only uses the lights to communicate charge status when someone is detected within a certain distance of the vehicle.
It's hardly earth-shattering stuff, but the idea of building a state-of-charge indicator into an EV's existing exterior lights is a solid one. The Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt both use lights mounted inside the vehicle, atop the dashboard, to communicate charge status. Those lights can be difficult to see from a distance, and they would be made redundant if either vehicle could use its exterior lamps to convey the same information.
Chances are that Rivian already plans to put this idea into practice, as it's simple enough, and at least one of the company's press photos shows the Rivian R1T's distinctive front LED light bar illuminated green while the truck is plugged in. Rivian's application goes on to mention that the taillights, too, could be used to communicate charge status.