Artificial Intelligence helps Mario play his own game

mario screengrab

Sometimes when you're playing a game it can feel like the character you're controlling has a mind of its own.

Now, thanks to a team of German researchers, gaming's most famous plumber can actually think for himself.

The Mario AI Project has developed an artificially intelligent Mario which is aware of himself and his environment and responds to spoken instructions.

The character will also make decisions on what to do based on what he has learned.

mario screengrab

The Cognitive Modelling Group at Germany's University of Tubingen has released a video showing how the artificial intelligence has been applied.

Mario can be taught that jumping on a Goomba (one of his recurring enemies) will definitely kill it.

The character will also respond to how he is "feeling" - having been programmed with "internal emotive states".

If he is hungry, he will find and collect coins, or if he is curious he will happily explore the Mushroom Kingdom.

speech recognition graph
Image caption A logic and grammar tree allows Mario to respond to commands and take action based on what he has learned

Perhaps most usefully from a gaming point of view, Mario can calculate how many moves he needs to make to reach a certain position.

Students at the University of Tubingen have used Mario as part of their efforts to find out how the human brain works.

The cognitive modelling unit claim their project has generated "a fully functional program" and "an alive and somewhat intelligent artificial agent".

It's not Mario's first venture into the world of artificial intelligence, a competition has been running for several years using the character as a platform.

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