Move over Nvidia; you're not the only major name in tech that is looking to find a virtual alternative to testing the capabilities of autonomous vehicles that pulls these self-driving machines off of real roads and streets and into the graphics card.

As Meixa Haung of the Microsoft Garage team explains in a recent report from Microsoft, the crew behind Project Road Runner (a subdivision of Microsoft Garage) has turned to the open source AirSim drone simulation platform and the Unreal gaming engine in an effort to find a way to push the limits of artificial intelligence (A.I.) in automotive - and to test these futuristic programs without ever needing to take to the streets of an actual city.

While this might sound reminiscent of the previous coverage we gave to Nvidia's Drive Constellation system, the A.I. experts behind Microsoft's take on this process have a significantly different approach to the testing process. Specifically, Aditya Sharma and his team at Project Road Runner have no problems letting the A.I. behind this technology crash its virtual vehicles as often as necessary.

The big takeaway here is that Sharma and his team strongly advocate deep reinforcement learning, so each collision or crash event serves as a wellspring of useful data for the software to pull from as it learns and adapts to real-world scenarios found within the simulation.

For now, Microsoft doesn't appear to have any plans to turn this technology into a commercial product. However, if you know anything about the ever-growing shared space between auto and tech, it should come as no great surprise if the news of Project Road Runner's work within the Unreal game engine is shortly followed by the announcement of a blockbuster collaborative effort between Microsoft and either an automaker or some other major player in the race to truly driverless vehicles.

Want to dig even deeper into the work of Project Road Runner and the Microsoft Garage team to see exactly how this tech giant could soon join the long list of other automotive industry interlopers who have the ability to reshape the future of transportation? Then go ahead and dig into the complete story from Haung over on the Microsoft blog by clicking on the link found below.

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