GTA V Being Used To Teach Self-Driving Cars


You’ve all heard that self-driving cars are coming. We may not even own cars anymore — we may just wait for one to arrive, direct it to the place we want to go on the map, and have it take us there. In the future, when you’re chilling in the backseat of one of these bot-limos, remember what you read here: the AI for self-driving cars is being trained in GTA V.

Seeing as that’s the video game this site is built around, I shouldn’t have to point out why this is eyebrow-raising….but I’ll do it anyway. GTA is built around destruction and lawlessness, and driving cars off cliffs, ramming other cars, performing Cunning Stunts, etc. Plus, car steering has never been the GTA series’ strong point; you can’t help but get into accidents when you’re attempting to drive using the controls Rockstar gives you.

The researchers at MIT are doing things a bit differently, though. Their AI takes the form of a custom car modded into Los Santos and its sole goal is to avoid all obstacles. There are, of course, a lot more obstacles in GTA V than in real life, so it should soon be more than prepared.

“The researchers created a software layer that sits between the game and a computer’s hardware, automatically classifying different objects in the road scenes shown in the game. This provides the labels that can then be fed to a machine-learning algorithm, allowing it to recognize cars, pedestrians, and other objects shown, either in the game or on a real street.”

The reason GTA V is being used is because collecting data from a camera mounted atop a real car would take much longer and cost a lot more. If they can get better, quicker, cheaper results from a virtual world that costs $60 (when it’s not on sale), why wouldn’t they use it?

To learn more, you can read the full story at Technology Review.

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