back to article Train your self-driving car AI in Grand Theft Auto V – what could possibly go wrong?

Developers building self-driving cars can now take their AI agents for a spin in the simulated open world of Grand Theft Auto V – via OpenAI’s machine-learning playground, Universe. The open-source MIT-licensed code gluing GTA V to Universe is maintained by Craig Quiter, who works for Otto – the Uber-owned startup that …

  1. Oh Homer
    Paris Hilton

    Funny turns

    It's odd watching an AI driver make turns using a series of vectors instead of a smooth arc. I wonder why this is still beyond their grasp. Surely the maths involved in calculating curves can't be that hard.

    1. Toltec

      Re: Funny turns

      I see plenty of humans driving like that, especially the repeated braking for no reasonable cause. Then of course most humans appear to lack the processing power to look much past the end of their bonnet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I prefer to train my self driving AI by having it watch the movie Death Race 2000 & have it play the 1976 video arcade game.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Better

        Several youngsters I know spent their teens doing driving games. I did wonder how much their non-wheel digital movements would predetermine their driving style when they learned to drive real cars. On the face of it they made the transition ok.

  2. Smallbrainfield

    Are they kidding?

    The NPC drivers in GTAV drive like easily startled gibbons. They panic at the slightest hint of violence and drive with reckless abandon. Making random lane changes and last minute cornering decisions without any indicators... oh wait.

    1. Teiwaz

      Re: Are they kidding?

      Yup, that's my experience of the recent GTAs - fire a gun anywhere near traffic, and 9/10 times, the panicking drivers within range will go manage to run over every pedestrian within range, and likely your character will spend the next ten minutes under the back wheels of a car stuck in the jam.

      1. Haku

        Re: Are they kidding?

        The best place to shoot randomly at the NPC drivers for their panic reactions is when they're all queued up at a level crossing just as a train is going by...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Are they kidding?

          Also, try a grenade or some tear gas. The great thing about blowing up cars in GTA is that sometimes they go in a chain, like a bunch stopped at a light, and that is generally very satisfying. Tear gas is good for clearing out the NPCs and taking some cars without fussy drivers wanting them back.

          Great idea, but I also think that GTA could be a bit more realistic with regards to the level of pedestrians and traffic. i.e. it needs more. There are generally less people crossing the street than in real life, but otherwise these games are a must for whatever system you have. I don't even do missions anymore, I just take Trevor out in the jet fighter and blow up pandas (aka police vehicles) or strafe the prison towers. Plus, the mysterious satellite dishes near his house are a great source of FIB vehicles. There's so much to do in Los Santos!

          If you have not yet secured a jet fighter, keep at it! I spent many in-game dollars dying to figure out how to make off with the jet when the military is on you like fire ants (aka Spicy Boys).

  3. Luiz Abdala

    Excellent tool.

    The game's own AI is pretty much your average driver, after a lobotomy. Things go haywire, pretty fast, sometimes even without human intervention.

    If you train your AI to go around Los Santos without hitting anything, you could drive anywhere.

    And you'd be surprised how smooth are some turns, even only using the own game's AI.

  4. Tom7

    Wait, what?

    It's a great fit because it runs on a different platform from all your AI tools? At the very least, if the connection is platform transparent then it doesn't matter what platform the game runs on. It doesn't make it a "great fit."

  5. tr1ck5t3r

    I'm really surprised that these games companies, especially the one's linked to vehicles, like Need for Speed, GTA and others have not invested more in their AI platforms with a view to diversifying into AI for car companies or even individuals to licence?

    Put it this way, do you want to download Googles vehicle driving AI or GTA's or EA's Need for Speed AI into your car in order to go from A to B?

    Hackers are going to have a friggin whale of a time pranking granny who thought she had the Driving Miss Daisy AI or Thunderbirds Parker driving AI, when really its the Colin McRae driving AI hackers have uploaded in the car.

    Still I wonder whether the pixel output will be on a one to one basis, or whether GTA can output more pixel data than the receiving learning to drive AI.

    Plus whats the sound input/output like? Stereo online or some sort of high faluting surround sound from Dolby to further train the AI.

    And finally will there be any other sensor data, like a pseudo gyroscope datastream, not mention fake engine management data which includes air density, humidity levels and the all important temperature sensor, ABS sensors and just for good measure a lux meter, just because I love my light and its important to quantify thermal radiation effects for road surface risks.

    Who cares if Chrysler & Google's AI can spot a cyclist with their french stick carried horizontally pointing in the wrong direction which has the unintended consequence of holding up traffic!

    1. Haku

      I for one do not want to be driven by a GTA programmed car in real life after having observed the competance of NPC drivers in GTA from taking taxi rides and standing on top of ambulances (one of the few vehicles you don't fall off of) whilst a swearing NPC takes you on an impromptu tour of Los Santos.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Could be worse...could be the Far Cry autopilot.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          > Still I wonder whether the pixel output will be on a one to one basis, or whether GTA can output more pixel data than the receiving learning to drive AI.

          Indeed, my thoughts were whether the GTA game can be made to output several camera views simultaneously to simulate the multi-camera setup that Tesla et al use.

          Lots of real racing teams use a simulator called rFactor 2 for 'testing' new car setups and driver practice, such is the accuracy of its physics - it even simulates the multiple layers of tyres with respect to temperature and wear. Of course it is geared towards track racing, not the everyday world of traffic lights and pedestrians, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't pressed into service developing AI code in future.

          1. Mage Silver badge

            I''d be surprised if it wasn't pressed into service

            I'd be surprised if it was, because how a human sees a scene and then reacts (partially unconsciously) is completely different to how a computer program drives a car. A computer relies much more on inputs that a human doesn't use (except maybe in a submarine, aircraft out of sight of ground or spaceship).

            No computer program can drive adequately by simply having a video feed (one eyed humans can drive better than any autonomous car, if concentrating, experienced and not over tired).

            Computers doing driving monitor all the wheels, multiple LIDAR, speed, steering angle, etc., dead reckoning of position updated with GP and only very rudimentary processing of video. Computer programs don't use the same inputs as people.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      "I'm really surprised that these games companies..."

      Because it's an artificial environment. It's nothing like the real world and it's Simulated Characters, not classical genuine AI. The "cars" in GTA have none of the inputs that real world vehicles have. The program in a game/driving simulation knows EXACTLY where the road and every object is and what it is.

      Game companies have nothing relevant to sell autonomous vehicle developers. It's a completely unrelated programming environment.

      I can't see how this has a huge relevance to real world autonomous vehicles. Now why don't developers pick a doable target first like the Tube and rails? On Southern they can't agree about staffing doors vs "driving".

  6. Alistair

    Canuck issue.

    I wonder, not having played GTAV, does it snow in San Andreas?

    1. Luiz Abdala

      Re: Canuck issue.

      Yes it does snow in San Andreas, if you load up any weather-control mod, which is fairly standard issue on any mod menu.

      Or, on the online version, Rockstar will spray the whole town with that white garbage during Christmas, so you will smash your 2.3 million dollar Progen T20 you just stole more easily, (as if the thugs shooting at you weren't enough), and rack up a hefty repair bill, cutting your profits when you resale it.

      And no, the game AI doesn't consider the snow in advance; you see them sloshing sideways all over the place, and trying to correct themselves. On this aspect, the game AI is pretty realistic, sometimes with catastrophic results, just like humans.

      On the rest of the year, without Rockstar intervention, it won't snow, but it will eventually rain (or *pour*) pretty hard.

  7. maccy

    The AI apocalypse:

    Delivering 51,744 cans of Budweiser

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: The AI apocalypse:

      Makes sense to trial self-driving truck with cargo where it doesn't matter if the cargo gets lost or destroyed.

  8. David Tallboys

    Surely they are using Carmageddon, aren't they?

    Much more fun for programmers with a sense of humor. Runs in Dos Box for those who've moved on to windows something, remember. Check Point.

    My weird neighbor is a programmer for an avionics company. There is an increasing list of planes I do not want to be a passenger in.

    NB u removed for US spelling in several places, it seems.

    Password hell, too drunk to cope.

    1. Ogi

      Re: Surely they are using Carmageddon, aren't they?

      > My weird neighbor is a programmer for an avionics company. There is an increasing list of planes I do not want to be a passenger in.

      Friend of mine is a programmer for the aerospace industry, overseeing the fly-by-wire and other such systems. Not only is there a list of airplanes I don't want to fly in (including the two big ones), it is telling that most of the employees at said companies are of the same mind, and have their own personal planes (bonus as you work at what is essentially a private airport, they have airplane parking!) , all of which insist on those planes having all mechanical control (cables only).

      I guess it makes sense, I insist on all mechanical control of my cars, for similar reasons. If I ever get the time and money I will see about a PPL, but for now I only fly if absolutely necessary.

      Lord knows what I will do if they ban human driven cars in future, or I can't get a non fly-by-wire car. If I have enough money by then I might just consider moving out of those countries to places that are yet to implement such policies.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    20 comments, and no cracks about programming the AI to run over hookers?

    Has the El Reg commentariat suddenly developed a sense of propriety? I am so out of here if so!

  10. Paul Renault

    Near the end, at the red Stop Light..

    The AI pulled the car too close to the car ahead. If that car broke down for any reason, the AI would have a hard time getting around the car ahead, especially if the car behind also pulled up close.

    My driving instructor would be tsk-tsk-ing.

  11. Big_Boomer


    Would be interesting to see how it coped with an oncoming vehicle on the freeway? I've seen that a few times in GTA V,....and once in the real world. Chaos and destruction ensued in both instances.

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