Car Companies Are Using Grand Theft Auto V for Autonomous Testing

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Automotive Editor

Zac Estrada is an automotive journalist and contributing writer who hails from Santa Barbara, CA. Zac attended Northeastern University's School of Journalism in Boston and currently runs the automotive blog Confessions of an Autoholic. 

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, Automotive Editor - April 19, 2017

Video games may not be such a waste of time if you're developing self-driving car software.

That's according to a new report from Bloomberg, which says companies Ford and Google are using the popular murder/thievery/driving simulator Grand Theft Auto V in self-driving simulations, sans the murder and thievery parts. The blockbuster title from Rockstar Games is serving as a supplement to getting actual prototypes on roads and being given driving time as these and other companies race to develop self-driving technologies.

Analysts say relying purely on real-world testing on public roads and closed test tracks isn't enough to thoroughly develop software for cars these days. Researchers need experience in a wide variety of situations and need to learn about human responses, too. Increasingly realistic video games can fill that gap, giving researchers access to a wide array of different situations and responses to work with.

Simulators also serve to introduce other elements that may not be able to be replicated regularly in the real world, such as weather. By recreating outdoor conditions consistently, developers can better adapt self-driving technologies to work in heavy rain or fog, for example, two things GTAV simulates beautifully.

But totally self-driving cars are still a ways off. For now, those tasked with designing these systems scheduled to roll out in the coming years have to get more seat time – whether that's on the road or with a controller.

GTA

, Automotive Editor

Zac Estrada is an automotive journalist and contributing writer who hails from Santa Barbara, CA. Zac attended Northeastern University's School of Journalism in Boston and currently runs the automotive blog Confessions of an Autoholic. 

Follow On: Twitter | Google+ | Website