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

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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.
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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.