Self-Driving Cars Take 'Grand Theft Auto V' Driving Lessons, Developers Train AI Away From Real Roads

Jan 17, 2017 07:10 AM EST | Rebecca Pearson

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Developers involved in the creation of self-driving cars are training its artificial intelligence (AI) with the help of the video game "Grand Theft Auto V" (GTA). By teaching the autonomous cars to navigate roads without actually being in real roads helps mitigates the risks of accidents and destruction, while enhancing how the cars learn to control.

The researchers make use of Open AI's Universe to integrate and simulate "Grand Theft Auto V" and Google Street View for teaching self-driving cars to navigate in different street scenarios. According to , the video game was particular picked because it was "visually realistic."

"Grand Theft Auto V" is set in Los Angeles, which is already a big playground for developers. The game also features about 257 vehicles, different weathers and other street conditions that can make for a good testing environment.

One other benefit for the developers in making use of GTA and Google Street View is that it eliminates the need to develop, design and create specific road maps and other elements for the self-driving cars' training. Such a process can drain resources both in time and money.

So, by simply using the video game and optimizing this in an open environment, developers have come up with a more efficient option. "If this process can be automated using deep networks that operate on large public databases, this would be a big win for self-driving technology," MIT's John Leonard, who has become an automated driver expert said, according to .

This isn't the first time developers have used "Grand Theft Auto V" on self-driving cars as the practice is becoming more common among other research groups working on autonomous cars and its AI. In fact, in Germany, a team of researchers have also conducted the same tests with Intel Labs, according to

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