Meet Charles, an AI Driving a Car In Grand Theft Auto V

Testing the capabilities of an artificial intelligence by letting it drive a car in GTA V sounds like a rather strange idea. However, it is also an intriguing concept, especially since this demo is currently being live-streamed on Twitch. In the video, we see an AI driving cars around in Grand Theft Auto V. It is not something people with a queasy stomach may want to watch, but it will certainly provide a fair bit of entertainment.

GTA V is A Training Ground for AI

Not every software developer has the resources at their disposal to successfully put an AI into an actual car and let it drive around. This concept also meets a lot of resistance from the government is all over the world. Until governments and car manufacturers come to an agreement, letting an AI drive cards in video games is the second best option. Whether or not Grand Theft Auto V is the best choice in this regard, remains a big question.

However, AI programmer Harrison Kinsley feels the video game is quite an interesting test case for his creation. The AI in question, which goes by the name Charles, has been set loose upon the game world of GTA V to cause nothing but absolute chaos. This whole ordeal is being live-streamed on Twitch, giving everyone in the world an insight as to how an AI operates while learning to drive a car.

In the top left corner of the stream, we can see the decisions made by Charles as it navigates traffic. Although these decisions are made in a matter of microseconds, it is evident this AI is clearly learning to navigate the game’s landscape. It is important to keep in mind watching Charles drive around in GTA V is quite a hoot, although one may not want an AI to crash into every vehicle it comes across. Driving against the flow of traffic on the wrong side of a highway is also something that needs to be avoided.

Charles will learn to navigate the roads thanks to its deep learning capabilities. It is quite an advanced concept that requires a lot of research and testing before Charles can even come close to being considered a “normal” driver. Then again, having an AI crash multiple times in a video game is far less harmful than letting it loose on actual roads where other people drive around.

Under the hood, Charles takes all actions based on single frames at any time. All decisions are based on data extracted from the pixels, which is quite different from how an AI would go about things on a normal road. With no “regular” sensors to extract data from, this parade of collisions is only to be expected. Only using peripheral visions is challenging even for the best of AI’s, although Charles is doing slightly better than some gamers you may know.

It remains to be seen if Charles can become a better driver than most people, though. An AI is normally not designed for the purpose of navigating traffic in video games based on frame-by-frame pixel information on a computer screen. It is quite an interesting experiment that will, in the worst case, generate quite a bit of entertainment for Twitch viewers. Moreover, Charles will easily become a big hero among GTA V players, as his road rage is seemingly insatiable right now.

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