Grand Theft Auto Used to Test Autonomous Car Reactions


If you count yourself among the drivers worried that a future of self-driving cars will be a boring one, chin up: autonomous car researchers have started using the Grand Theft Auto video game series to help teach self-driving cars to behave.

Suddenly, the idea of letting the car look after A-to-B responsibilities seems a lot more appealing with the knowledge that your commute will involve torture, gang wars and rampant prostitution.

Erm, not quite.

According to a Bloomberg <!>report, last year some folks at Germany’s Darmstadt University of Technology and Intel figured out how to extract some of the visuals from GTA V. No, not the waterboarding and dental extraction torture scenes that sparked controversy following the game’s release, but the driving stuff. Self-driving car engineers from Princeton University and other institutions and car manufacturers are now using that to test the limits of their current autonomous car software, and then make it better at avoiding that kid who just ran into the street (yes, of course instead of aiming for him in order to restore your game character’s health).

The idea is to give computers the ability to perceive and then react to the unexpected, something the human brain is apparently much better at (though that’s not always obvious in real-life driving).

Alright, so self-driving cars will probably be just as boring as we all think they will. But we can take heart in knowing the engineers who designed the software behind them at least had a bit of fun along the way.

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Chris Chase

Chris Chase

As a child, Chris spent much of his time playing with toy cars in his parents’ basement; when his mother would tell him to go play outside, he made car sounds while riding his bicycle or dug roads for his toys in the flower garden. Now he gets to indulge his obsession playing with real cars that make their own cool noises, and gets paid for it.