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Is GTA 5 Teaching Self-Driving Cars How to Drive?

Is GTA 5 Teaching Self-Driving Cars
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Risberg/AP/REX/Shutterstock (7555870g) The Waymo driverless car is displayed during a Google event, in San Francisco. The self-driving car project that Google started seven years ago has grown into a company called Waymo. The new identity announced Tuesday marks another step in an effort to revolutionize the way people get around. Instead of driving themselves, people will be chauffeured in robot-controlled vehicles if Waymo, automakers and ride-hailing service Uber realize their vision within the next few years Google Self Driving Cars, San Francisco, USA - 13 Dec 2016
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* Google’s self-driving Waymo project is using GTA 5 to help test autonomous cars
* Tests include dealing with other drivers, pedestrians and changing environments
* The self-driving AI has already clocked more than 1 million in-game miles

Google’s taking a cue from Rockstar Games by using Grand Theft Auto’s incredibly detailed 3D environments to help simulate self-driving tests.

GTA 5 is helping train AI to prepare and plan for oncoming drivers, pedestrians, buildings, roads and other real-world obstacles. They’re able to run traffic and weather simulations and even teach these cars how to deal with unpredictable GTA-style collisions.

With 262 different vehicle models, more than 1,000 unpredictable pedestrians (and animals), various weather conditions and a multitude of roads, bridges and tunnels, GTA 5 is one seriously expansive game. So it makes sense that developers would pluck certain aspects of this chaotic world to help simulate driving tests. 

According to one Princeton University professor and autonomous advisor, GTA 5 is “the richest virtual environment that we could extract data from.”  

Reportedly, the autonomous AI has already driven more than one million in-game miles, which is a huge boost for developers who are under extremely tight mile deadlines. What’s more, the experienced gained virtually — like having to account for multiple cars changing lanes — has been found to transfer over to real life.

As self-driving tests have become harder, more convoluted and increasingly shrouded in controversy, the ability to turn to virtual worlds has apparently been incredibly helpful. More than that, the in-game training helps Google’s AI clock more continuous hours than they ever could during the day.