CUSTOMER STORY

Driving into the future of electric transportation

250 platform users

A 50x increase from a year ago

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“Databricks Lakehouse empowers us to lower the barrier of entry for data access across our organization so we can build the most innovative and reliable electric vehicles in the world.”

– Wassym Bensaid, Vice President of Software Development, Rivian

Rivian is preserving the natural world for future generations with revolutionary Electric Adventure Vehicles (EAVs). With over 11,000 EAVs on the road generating multiple terabytes of IoT data per day, the company is using data insights and machine learning to improve vehicle health and performance. However, with legacy cloud tooling, it struggled to scale pipelines cost-effectively and spent significant resources on maintenance — slowing its ability to be truly data driven. Since moving to the Databricks Lakehouse Platform, Rivian can now understand how a vehicle is performing and how this impacts the driver using it. Equipped with these insights, Rivian is innovating faster, reducing costs, and ultimately, delivering a better driving experience to customers.

Struggling to democratize data on a legacy platform

Building a world that will continue to be enjoyed by future generations requires a shift in the way we operate. At the forefront of this movement is Rivian — an electric vehicle manufacturer focused on shifting our planet’s energy and transportation systems entirely away from fossil fuel. Today, Rivian’s fleet includes personal vehicles and involves a partnership with Amazon to deliver 100,000 commercial vans. Each vehicle uses IoT sensors and cameras to capture petabytes of data ranging from how the vehicle drives to how various parts function. With all this data at its fingertips, Rivian is using machine learning to improve the overall customer experience with predictive maintenance so that potential issues are addressed before they impact the driver.

Before Rivian even shipped its first EAV, it was already up against data visibility and tooling limitations that decreased output, prevented collaboration and increased operational costs. It had 30 to 50 large and operationally complicated compute clusters at any given time, which was costly. Not only was the system difficult to manage, but the company experienced frequent cluster outages as well, forcing teams to dedicate more time to troubleshooting than to data analysis. Additionally, data silos created by disjointed systems slowed the sharing of data, which further contributed to productivity issues. Required data languages and specific expertise of toolsets created a barrier to entry that limited developers from making full use of the data available. Jason Shiverick, Principal Data Scientist at Rivian, said the biggest issue was the data access. “I wanted to open our data to a broader audience of less technical users so they could also leverage data more easily.”

Rivian knew that once its EAVs hit the market, the amount of data ingested would explode. In order to deliver the reliability and performance it promised, Rivian needed an architecture that would not only democratize data access, but also provide a common platform to build innovative solutions that can help ensure a reliable and enjoyable driving experience.

Predicting maintenance issues with Databricks Lakehouse

Rivian chose to modernize its data infrastructure on the Databricks Lakehouse Platform, giving it the ability to unify all of its data into a common view for downstream analytics and machine learning. Now, unique data teams have a range of accessible tools to deliver actionable insights for different use cases, from predictive maintenance to smarter product development. Venkat Sivasubramanian, Senior Director of Big Data at Rivian, says, “We were able to build a culture around an open data platform that provided a system for really democratizing data and analysis in an efficient way.” Databricks’ flexible support of all programming languages and seamless integration with a variety of toolsets eliminated access roadblocks and unlocked new opportunities. Wassym Bensaid, Vice President of Software Development at Rivian, explains, “Today we have various teams, both technical and business, using Databricks Lakehouse to explore our data, build performant data pipelines, and extract actionable business and product insights via visual dashboards.”

Rivian’s ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems) Team can now easily prepare telemetric accelerometer data to understand all EAV motions. This core recording data includes information about pitch, roll, speed, suspension and airbag activity, to help Rivian understand vehicle performance, driving patterns and connected car system predictability. Based on these key performance metrics, Rivian can improve the accuracy of smart features and the control that drivers have over them. Designed to take the stress out of long drives and driving in heavy traffic, features like adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, automatic emergency driving, and forward collision warning can be honed over time to continuously optimize the driving experience for customers.

Secure data sharing and collaboration was also facilitated with the Databricks Unity Catalog. Shiverick describes how unified governance for the lakehouse benefits Rivian productivity. “Unity Catalog gives us a truly centralized data catalog across all of our different teams,” he said. “Now we have proper access management and controls.” Venkat adds, “With Unity Catalog, we are centralizing data catalog and access management across various teams and workspaces, which has simplified governance.” End-to-end version controlled governance and auditability of sensitive data sources, like the ones used for autonomous driving systems, produces a simple but secure solution for feature engineering. This gives Rivian a competitive advantage in the race to capture the autonomous driving grid.

Accelerating into an electrified and sustainable world

By scaling its capacity to deliver valuable data insights with speed, efficiency and cost-effectiveness, Rivian is primed to leverage more data to improve operations and the performance of its vehicles to enhance the customer experience. Venkat says, “The flexibility that lakehouse offers saves us a lot of money from a cloud perspective, and that’s a huge win for us.” With Databricks Lakehouse providing a unified and open source approach to data and analytics, the Vehicle Reliability Team is able to better understand how people are using their vehicles, and that helps to inform the design of future generations of vehicles. By leveraging the Databricks Lakehouse Platform, they have seen a 30%–50% increase in runtime performance, which has led to faster insights and model performance.

Shiverick explains, “From a reliability standpoint, we can make sure that components will withstand appropriate lifecycles. It can be as simple as making sure door handles are beefy enough to endure constant usage, or as complicated as predictive and preventative maintenance to eliminate the chance of failure in the field. Generally speaking, we’re improving software quality based on key vehicle metrics for a better customer experience.”

From a design optimization perspective, Rivian’s unobstructed data view is also producing new diagnostic insights that can improve fleet health, safety, stability and security. Venkat says, “We can perform remote diagnostics to triage a problem quickly, or have a mobile service come in, or potentially send an OTA to fix the problem with the software. All of this needs so much visibility into the data, and that’s been possible with our partnership and integration on the platform itself.” With developers actively building vehicle software to improve issues along the way.

Moving forward, Rivian is seeing rapid adoption of Databricks Lakehouse across different teams — increasing the number of platform users from 5 to 250 in only one year. This has unlocked new use cases including using machine learning to optimize battery efficiency in colder temperatures, increasing the accuracy of autonomous driving systems, and serving commercial depots with vehicle health dashboards for early and ongoing maintenance. As more EAVs ship, and its fleet of commercial vans expands, Rivian will continue to leverage the troves of data generated by its EAVs to deliver new innovations and driving experiences that revolutionize sustainable transportation.