Drone footage of Rivian’s futuristic, battery-electric R1T pickup pulling an impressive tank turn set the internet on fire this week. It was awesome, and it suggested the Michigan-based startup had added another feature to the truck’s already impressive roster of capabilities. There’s just one problem: it was completely fake.
“That wasn’t an official video, and it was [computer-generated imagery],” a Rivian spokesperson confirmed to Digital Trends via email. Dang. We were already browsing Google Earth to find the closest trail we could pull a tank turn on. The video was quickly removed from YouTube, and the account that posted it appears to have been either suspended or deleted.
What’s a tank turn, and why would Rivian’s R1T (pictured above) be capable of it? The term refers to a tank’s ability to perform a 180-degree turn on a given point, without moving forward or backward. Think of it as spinning around on an office chair. Tanks not equipped with a conventional steering system normally do this by spinning one set of tracks in one direction and the other in the opposite direction. The left tracks go forward, while the right tracks go backward, for example.
That’s impossible to do in a normal car, but Rivian’s is a little paranormal. Its drivetrain consists of four individual electric motors that each spin a wheel. Software theoretically makes it possible to spin the two left wheels forward, while simultaneously spinning the two right wheels backward, or vice versa. It’s also possible to spin only the wheels on the left side while braking the wheels on the right side, which would deliver similar results.
While the video was fake, the rumors claiming a tank steer function will be available on the R1T aren’t completely unfounded, either. Rivian previously trademarked the terms Tank Turn and Tank Steer, though the applications are inactive as of writing, and company founder R.J. Scaringe allegedly confirmed the feature will be available on the R1T, an SUV named R1S, and many of the other four-wheel drive electric vehicles his company has in the pipeline.
“All I can say is that it wasn’t an official video, and that we have discussed Tank Steer as a feature,” the spokesperson added.
Production is still scheduled to begin in 2020. We won’t have to wait long to find out whether Rivian’s unique breed of electric trucks have a tighter turning radius than a Smart ForTwo.