Science and Tech


An AI Is Learning To Drive In 'Grand Theft Auto.' It's Going ... Great

Data gathered from neural networks could be used to help develop better programs for real self-driving cars.
Posted at 10:24 PM, May 19, 2017

A robot is trying to drive around the virtual city of "Grand Theft Auto V," and it's going just great.

Twitch user sentdex created Charles, a neural network strapped to an indestructible digital vehicle in "GTA V." Charles processes still images of the road ahead to make moment-to-moment decisions about which buttons to press next.

The result is predictably chaotic. Charles does well on straightaways and with other vehicles but doesn't have a lot of regard for trees and lampposts.

Twitch is no stranger to alternative modes of playing games: The service had an internet mob play "Pokémon," fighting fish play a fighting game, and a pair of Google Homes play with each other's emotions.

But this Twitch project actually mirrors something in real life: Developers of autonomous vehicles would use the simulated environment of "GTA V" to test their self-driving programs.

Charles' creator hopes to give him some short-term memory soon, so he can use multiple images to make better driving decisions. Until then, he'll probably end up in the ocean a few more times.