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Programming Transportation Games

New AI Challenge Is All About Wanton Destruction 45

Posted by timothy
from the losers-are-made-into-wanton-soup dept.
togelius writes "Previous years have seen a number of car racing competitions where neural nets, rule-based systems and other fancy AI techniques have been put to the test by letting them drive on a track and seeing who gets the best lap time. Recognizing that finding the Michael Schumacher of AI is not enough, a team of researchers from University of Wuerzburg now wants to find the Mad Max of AI. Their new competition is called 'Demolition Derby' and the goal is to 'wreck all opponent cars by crashing into them without getting wrecked yourself.' For this, they use the open-source TORCS game and a custom AI interface, allowing all and any AI researchers and enthusiasts (including you!) to submit their best and most aggressive controllers." (There's a competition for conventional racing, too; competitors can enter either or both.)
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New AI Challenge Is All About Wanton Destruction

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  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @07:28AM (#31714944)

    With real vehicles!

    • by flyneye (84093)

      Absolutely!
      I know exactly who would be the first entrant as well
      www.srl.org
      What a fantastic idea for a television show as well.
      The world should be exposed to the world of Mark Pauline + AI. Imagine Pauline with a television budget to work with.
      This could make the Terminator movies look like Mr Rodgers Neighborhood.

    • by Jurily (900488)

      Do you want explosions or test AIs? Computer games can provide the perfect measuring environment: you control exactly what data they have, etc.

      • Do you want explosions

        Nope. Competitors in DARPA autonomous driving tests are not encouraged to explode. See here:

        http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/index.asp [darpa.mil]

        Computer games can provide the perfect measuring environment: you control exactly what data they have, etc.

        Simulations are all good, but look at the massive difference between them and reality. Sure you can control what data they get, but it's rarely as complex and variable as real-world.
        Throw in AI that can get anywhere close to working with that 'real-world' data, plus trying to race around a circuit against agressive oppositoin, and that would be impressive.

      • by deniable (76198)
        Compare driving a Toyota in a simulation to the real thing. Oh, what a feeling.
  • Rise of the Machine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by conureman (748753) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @07:29AM (#31714948)

    Gotta develop the appropriate durability if they're gonna be dealing with whatever I.E.D.s that the People of the Resistance will be able to use.

  • This is the beginning of the end.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      This is the beginning of the end.

      Not from Skynet's point of view. They've just been patiently waiting for some human to be foolish enough to open this door. I think we all know where it goes from here ...

  • Homer Simpson is inside, secretly behind the wheel!

  • it says that cars don't take damage from colliding with walls. That means you can't run a car against a wall to smash it. But it is so fun!

    Also, those cars have very strong fronts, because they don't take damage from there too.

    • by Halo1 (136547)

      Also, those cars have very strong fronts, because they don't take damage from there too.

      They're made of black boxes from old airplanes.

  • by Posting=!Working (197779) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @07:44AM (#31715018)

    # Cars do not take any damage when colliding with walls.
    # Cars do not take any damage in the front when colliding with each other.
    # Cars do take the doubled amount of damage in the rear when colliding with each other.

    All of these rules are the opposite of how actual demolition derbies work. Smashing a car into the wall causes large amounts of damage. Damage to the front (the radiator, engine etc) is way more effective than damage than the rear. Most cars are driven backwards because the trunk is just a big crumple zone. As long as it doesn't get the wheels or axle, damage in the rear doesn't really matter.

    each car's damage is reset to zero every time a competitor gets wrecked.

    OK, they need to call it something else now. It's not a demolition derby anymore. There's no floating wrenches that repair all damage in real life either.

    • by Eudial (590661) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @07:49AM (#31715040)

      Perhaps the goal is not so much about creating an accurate demolition derby simulator, so much as it is about creating a suitable challenge to improve artificial intelligence? ... you know, like how chess is a terribly unrealistic war simulator, while still being useful in training strategical thinking.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I agree this is about AI and not derbies, but I don't see how these rule changes make the game a better AI challenge.

        The damage resetting rule is the only one I see as obviously beneficial when competing algorithms.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GrumblyStuff (870046)

        I think it would be more interesting if they kept it closer to actual demo derbies but maybe they're just taking it one step at a time.

        Things like... there's no teams but they can still communicate and decide to take out a competitor who's doing better than them or they trick others into doing the damage by pushing cars in the way instead of trying to smash 'em on their own.

      • Perhaps the goal is not so much about creating an accurate demolition derby simulator, so much as it is about creating a suitable challenge to improve artificial intelligence? ... you know, like how chess is a terribly unrealistic war simulator, while still being useful in training strategical thinking.

        This is /. and a story involving simulated cars. I believe a car analogy would have been more apt than a chess analogy (and perhaps even required).

      • But why arbitrarily make it backwards? Make damage to the rear count way less than damage to the front. There's no reason to reverse it.

        And why not count wall damage? Immovable solid object damage should be easier to model than moving deformable one. If it really is even modeled, otherwise a simple damage based on speed and angle of impact would suffice.

        The strategies learned would be unique to these rules, which effectively provide video game shields to the cars. For instance, a car backed into the wall

      • I've been dabbling in AI myself, and gotten bored talking with people about "chatbots" like ELIZA. There's a group of people devoted to making more in that vein, following pattern-recognition rules... and claiming in some cases that this strategy is going to lead to real AI if they just make the conversation-fakery detailed enough. I see that as a dead end even though it does have a few applications.

        Game AI in general also strikes me as a dead end. I recently read a book on the subject that emphasized how
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JoeMerchant (803320)
      I entered one of the early driver races, seems like about 14 years ago, and got disgusted with the 2nd round of competition when the rules about pitting, collision, etc. started to be the major factor in success instead of improving the (then dismal) simulation realism.

      Like all racing, winning is in working the rules, not making the fastest or most effective vehicle - the fastest and the best are quickly barred from competition.
    • Couldn't you get over the first two problems by assuming all the cars have the engine in the back instead of the front?
    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      I have to agree this games stupid "rules" make it about as close to demo derby as playing Galaga gets you ready to fly the shuttle! Oh and for those that have never had the fun of going to a demo derby, go while you can. I have several friends that run demo derby and they are predicting it'll be gone in less than a decade as the old 70s land boats become to hard to find in a usable shape and the 80s and 90s cars are just too much thin plastic and aluminum to use for demo derby. So go while you can because i
    • > All of these rules are the opposite of how actual demolition derbies work. Smashing a car into the wall causes large amounts of damage. Damage to the front (the radiator, engine etc) is way more effective than damage than the rear.

      Complete speculation but maybe it really isn't a demolition derby at all but something approaching what some envision for real driving in the future.

      Imagine a driving environment where because there are sensors on the side of road that automatically communicate with all ca

  • by fph il quozientatore (971015) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @08:27AM (#31715222) Homepage
    Sam: Actually, that was the Commissioner with another idiotic and baffling assignment.
    Max: Does it involve wanton destruction?
    Sam: We can only hope.
  • ...with another idiotic and baffling assignment.

  • From the holy book: So Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day.

    Is AI just seeking revenge?

  • This last round of the competition is last man standing derby, so it poses an odd challenge for AI. Someone should probably first develop lots of agressive AI players as expected, but then train the final AI to sit on the sidelines until only one other opponent is left. The final problem, of course, is what happens if everyone does this.
    • by jack2000 (1178961)
      Congratulations you've just rediscovered the ... uh... there was a word for the entire setup you described, i just can't remember what it was called.
    • train the final AI to sit on the sidelines until only one other opponent is left. The final problem, of course, is what happens if everyone does this.

      That's actually not a bad strategy to attempt, if you've tried http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demolition_derby [wikipedia.org]
      (If you have not, get out of the basement NOW and try before you die...It's MUCH less expensive than many other forms of motor racing, and great fun.)
      You need to minimise damage in order to win, following the old adage of "to finish first, first you have to finish".
      However, and this is the real thing about AI and 'mimicking a human' , as soon as you start to look to be in a good, (undamaged, fast) con

  • I'll volunteer some of my destruction. nom nom nom

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