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Self-driving cars now learning the rules of the road on the streets of Los Santos

Why it matters to you

Grand Theft Auto V is one of the best open-world games ever, but it could also play an important role in developing self-driving vehicles.

Car manufacturers are hard at work making self-driving cars a reality, but there are obvious concerns about putting an artificial intelligence¬†at the wheel. Before this technology is implemented on a large scale, our computer-controller chauffeurs are going to need some training — and believe it or not, Grand Theft Auto V is helping with their tuition.

Last year, the Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany and Intel Labs collaborated on a method of pulling visual information from Grand Theft Auto V, according to a report from Bloomberg. The game has now been modified such that it can be used in research projects designed to perfect self-driving programs.

Grand Theft Auto V is one of several different pieces of software that companies are using to put self-driving cars through their paces. While time on real-world roads is important, virtual simulations also have their own distinct advantages.

The polygonal streets of Los Santos can be reconfigured into the exact same scenario in a matter of seconds, allowing engineers to exhaustively test a range of responses to any one particular situation. It would be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to set up a similar testbed in the real world.

This kind of testing will hopefully help teach automated driving systems how to respond to unexpected obstacles with the same alertness and awareness as a skilled human driver. Anything can happen when you’re on the road, and it’s essential that an AI is able to respond appropriately, no matter what the eventuality.

At some point, self-driving technology will be advanced enough to stand up to trials on the same roads as every other human motorist. However, until we reach a certain level of sophistication, it will be the pedestrians roaming the streets in Grand Theft Auto V who bear the brunt of any unexpected occurrences.