By: Amanda Reichert
Grand Theft Auto 5, one of the best-selling video games of our time and one of the best-known games to date, is currently being used to teach self-driving cars the rules of the road. For those of us that have actually played GTA 5, it may scare us a little. Ask anyone who has played the game, the artificial intelligence (AI) cars in the game sometimes do crazy things like changing lanes unpredictably, causing accidents, or swerving all over the road for no reason.
Numerous companies and research teams have been working on teaching AI cars how to drive for many years. Recently, multiple teams have investigated into the possibilities of using video games to collect and analyze data for their cars. It takes many hours worth of work to gather real life data, and there is no possible way to run through every possible life situation to gather data from it. However, by using game software, researchers can run through numerous situations to gather data.
Not only will using video games help researchers gather data cheaply and efficiently, it will also help them teach the cars to drive. According to a report from MIT Technology Review, a research team from Intel Labs and Darmstadt University in Germany “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.”
There are always complications with software. As I mentioned before, the AI cars in GTA 5 have a habit of not making the smartest driving decisions when confronted with certain situations. If you happen to park your car sideways on the road, many cars will just plow into to keep driving. A few common issues developers are experiencing include over-correction, and the lack of speed control when the cars ahead of them slow down or speed up suddenly.
In conclusion, there might be self-driving cars all over the road in the near future. They may just drive a little differently than us. Researchers and developers will not release these cars until they know the cars work. We have nothing to fear from these GTA 5 driving habits. They will be fixed before the cars are released. Just remember: drive safe and so will the cars.
For more information, check out MIT’s Technology Review article at https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602317/self-driving-cars-can-learn-a-lot-by-playing-grand-theft-auto/?set=602346.