Does the AI grab the capsules with their survey ships? Don't seem to. I'm getting tired of running 3 cargo survey ships and the initial survey ship around continually after them. They keep respawning.
Answering my own question. Now playing turn 150 as Thalans on a large map, gifted AI. The Iconian Refuge have 4 Survey ships visible on the same turn. These Iconian survey ships have at most 14 movement. A different race had at least 2 surveys running around. There are almost no capsules or other good things to pickup anymore. They don't seem to be spawning. So it seems yes, the AI does go after capsules given enough time.
I had to declare a war. Otherwise no one wanted to start one with me. Other races are at war with each other and taking planets. Drengin got wiped out due to this.
The AI planet builds seem somewhat inefficient. Not terrible, just not seeing good use of adjacency bonuses.
On starting this large map game with the default number of players, noticed that the starting race positions are sometimes badly unbalanced. Spiral seemed to work best to give everyone equal room. It would nice if races were more evenly spaced on the spiral and loose maps.