Millions have taken control of Nintendo’s top plumber in his various quests to rescue the princess or save the Mushroom Kingdom, but have you ever wondered how Mario would fare on his own?

Quite well actually, that is, if under the guidance of the Cognitive Modeling Group at the University of Tubingen in Germany.

Team members there have been working on the Mario A.I. Project which, as the name suggests, aims to give everyone’s favorite plumber a mind of his own. In fact, this version of Mario is aware of himself and his environment, can accept and respond to spoken commands and even has his own set of emotions.

For example, Mario can learn – either by being told or by figuring it out on his own – that jumping on a Goomba will kill it. If Mario is hungry, he will scour about in search of coins and if he is feeling curious, he’ll casually explore the environment around him autonomously to bolster his knowledge base.

Perhaps most impressive is Mario A.I.’s ability to plan out routes to access difficult-to-reach locations set by his human instructor. By calculating the number of jumps, how high they need to be, the direction in which to jump and so on, he can successfully navigate virtually any terrain.

Mario A.I. is being used to help learn how the human brain works although such technology could also be used to build insanely awesome video games. Imagine a game in which enemies could accurately pick up on how you play, counter-act your movements and so on.