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Post: AI Is Gathering a Growing Amount of Training Data Inside Virtual Worlds

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AI Is Gathering a Growing Amount of Training Data Inside Virtual Worlds

To anyone living in a city where autonomous vehicles operate , it would seem they need a lot of practice. Robotaxis travel millions of miles a year on public roads in an effort to gather data from sensors—including cameras, radar, and lidar—to train the neural networks that operate them.

In recent years, due to a striking improvement in the fidelity and realism of computer graphics technology , simulation is increasingly being used to accelerate the development of these algorithms. Waymo, for example, says its autonomous vehicles have already driven some 20 billion miles in simulation . In fact, all kinds of machines, from industrial robots to drones, are gathering a growing amount of their training data and practice hours inside virtual worlds.

According to Gautham Sholingar, a senior manager at Nvidia focused on autonomous vehicle simulation, one key benefit is accounting for obscure scenarios for which it would be nearly impossible to gather training data in the real world.

“Without simulation, there are some scenarios that are just hard to account for. There will always be edge cases which are difficult to collect data for, either because they are dangerous and involve pedestrians or things that are challenging to measure accurately like the velocity of faraway objects. That’s where simulation really shines,” he told me in an interview for Singularity Hub .

While it isn’t ethical to have someone run unexpectedly into a street to train AI to handle such a situation, it’s significantly less problematic for an animated character inside a virtual […]

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