Those who have played Grand Theft Auto 5 know how frustrating the AI traffic jams can be in and around Los Santos. Apparently, those traffic jams can actually be very educational, at least when it comes to self-driving cars.

Turns out a group of researchers are using Grand Theft Auto 5’s driver AI to teach their self-driving cars how to navigate through traffic. Davide Bacchet of startup Nio recently connected with Bloomberg, where he explained why the company is using Grand Theft Auto 5 to help train the company’s driverless cars.

Bacchet revealed during the interview that “just relying on data from the roads is not practical”, and added that Grand Theft Auto 5 provides “the richest virtual environment that we could extract data from.”

GTA Online Running Back Adversary mode

Naturally, Grand Theft Auto 5 won’t be the only source of research the company uses, but it seems to provide good information about how traffic operates. Of course, the team at Nio will want to make sure not to stay still too long when capturing data or it will end up trying to teach its self-driving cars how to navigate through impossible traffic jams.

Bacchet said his team plans to have its self-driving cars ready for the real roads of the United States by 2020. That may be enough time for the company to not only use Grand Theft Auto 5 for research, but possibly Grand Theft Auto 6, assuming it will release sometime in the next three years.

Granted, Rockstar Games is currently focused on its upcoming release of Red Dead Redemption 2, but considering the developer’s history of Grand Theft Auto title releases, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the next Grand Theft Auto sequel launch sometime in the next couple years.

gta 5 traffic stop light

In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to see what Nio learns from Grand Theft Auto 5’s AI traffic, and how it benefits its own self-driving software. If this move is successful, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to see other driverless car companies follow suit.

Grand Theft Auto 5 is currently available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Source: Bloomberg

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