Tech

‘Grand Theft Auto’ And Other Video Games May Be Key To Reducing Roadway Deaths

[Cate Gillon/Getty Images]

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

Video games of all kinds, even the most violent ones, are helping developers optimize driverless car technology.

A consortium of researchers from Intel Labs and Darmstadt University in Germany are using critical data from the popular video game “Grand Theft Auto” to enhance the autonomous functionality, according to MIT Technology Review.

Machine learning, a method of data analysis that uses algorithms to detect patterns, enables computers to perform innovative functions like facial or speech recognition. But such a technical technique requires manually gathering an absurd amount of data and is a painstaking process.

Technological advancements, like hyper-realistic video games, compound even more advancements. The topography of modern day video games are so lifelike, it can be used to generate data that is just as high-quality as real-life scenery.

Video games have helped artificial intelligence (AI) projects before. “Assassins Creed” helped a computer scientist at Xerox Research Center Europe develop AI algorithms that can ultimately be used to help control vehicles.

Separate researchers at the University of British Columbia conducted experiments to see if video games can help train computer vision models. “Results show that a convolutional network trained on synthetic data achieves a similar test error to a network that is trained on real-world data for dense image classification,” the abstract of the study reads.

In other words, data from video games are just as good as data from the real world in creating a superior mapping system.

The faster self-driving cars can develop, then the faster such technology can hit the market. There are a number of prospective benefits for driverless vehicles, including removing the human error of driving, which is responsible for roughly 90 percent of the 30,000 fatal car accidents that occur on average every year.

Almost a quarter of Americans have admitted to sending emails and engage in sexual activity while driving, and this technology would make even those things safer.

“Autonomous vehicles could greatly enhance convenience and productivity for average Americans by potentially reducing traffic congestion and freeing up time spent behind the wheel,” Adam Thierer, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, wrote in his book Permissionless Innovation.

There are privacy and security concerns that arise from computerized vehicles. “Concerns over remote car hacking have already promoted the introduction of congressional legislation that would impose federal standards, and the threat of class action lawsuits looms large.”

While legislation looking to limit the revolutionary technology was officially introduced in July of last year, it has not yet moved to the next step in the lawmaking process and has no signs of doing so.

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