Unity's game engine is now developing self-driving cars

Baidu: Unity car simulations

Chinese internet provider Baidu has teamed up with the Unity gaming engine to help speed along development of self-driving cars, using simulations to gather test data on how the vehicles perform in 3D environments.

Internet provider Baidu is knee-deep in development of self-driving cars, though it faces stiff competition from the likes of Waymo, Apple, Tesla, and Uber - all of which are pushing to be at the frontline of autonomous transport.

Baidu's Apollo program aims to develop driverless cars with up to level 4 or 5 autonomy - meaning vehicles that don't require human intervention to be considered safe - and is working in tandem with numerous automakers worldwide.

Baidu Chief Architect Jaewon Jung said Unity would allow developers to focus on "testing and research without the worry of non-functional environments or building something from scratch".

Ready, set, go

In the race to develop autonomous vehicles for public roads, it's fitting that some of the major players are turning to video game engines to pull ahead of the competition.

3D simulations allows quick and repeatable driving tests with realistic physics - and that doesn't require hauling highly expensive test vehicles around to see how likely they are to crash into trees. 

Unity is one of the most widely used and accessible engines for video game development, underpinning the likes of Cuphead, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Hearthstone - and comes with plenty of pre-made environmental assets for use in driving simulations, as well as realistic weather systems.

Via Engadget