Gran Turismo 7 players can look forward to racing against a superhuman AI competitor known as ‘Gran Turismo Sophy’, thanks to a breakthrough in artificial intelligence.
Created by Sony AI, GT Sophy was made in conjunction with Gran Turismo developer Polyphony Digital and has been in development for five years. Sophy is a new autonomous AI agent that has been trained to win against the best GT Sport drivers in the world today and uses a brand-new AI algorithm that has helped Sony create a sophisticated racing opponent, one that simply hasn’t been possible until now.
However, unlike your typical AI opponents, Gran Turismo Sophy isn’t the equivalent of putting the in-game’s CPU on hard. It reacts and drives like a real human (or superhuman), and crucially had to master three essential driving skills using deep reinforcement learning (essentially, the process of repeating and learning countless scenarios until the best outcome is achieved).
“Gran Turismo Sophy is a significant development in AI whose purpose is not simply to be better than human players, but to offer players a stimulating opponent that can accelerate and elevate the players’ techniques and creativity to the next level,” said Hiroaki Kitano, CEO of Sony AI. “In addition to making contributions to the gaming community, we believe this breakthrough presents new opportunities in areas such as autonomous racing, autonomous driving, high-speed robotics and control.”
Creating a superhuman opponent
The first element Sophy had to master was race car control. Sophy needed to understand car dynamics, racing lines, and precision maneuvers to conquer challenging tracks. Next, Sophy had to learn racing tactics. Split-second decision-making skills are required when racing to deal with ever-evolving situations, so GT Sophy had to master tactics like slipstream passing, crossover passes, and even defensive maneuvers like blocking.
Perhaps the most human-like skill Sophy had to learn, however, was racing etiquette. GT Sophy has been trained to conform to sportsmanship rules, so you won’t be rammed off the track and it will respect opponent driving lines.
These three important elements were achieved in collaboration with Sony Computer Entertainment Interactive’s cloud gaming infrastructure, which allowed Sophy to experience thousands of scenarios and learn from them.
Sophy’s in pole position
The results of GT Sophy’s learning and development over time led to the AI comprehensively beating the best GT Sport drivers in the world. At an event held in July 2021, Sophy lost by a score of 86 points to 70 points. However, during a following event that took place in October, Gran Turismo Sophy beat the best drivers in the world comfortably: 52 points to 104 points.
The key takeaway from Sophy, then, isn’t that Sony has developed a really hard-to-beat CPU opponent, but more that it’s created a life-like, extremely skilled racing opponent that feels like a human player.
Speaking after the racing events versus Sophy, Takuma Miyazono, FIA Gran Turismo Championships 2020 Champion, said: “I completely forgot that I was playing against AI. It was really fun. I want to race with the agent more in the future.”
Emily Jones, FIA Gran Turismo Championships 2020 World Finalist, even noted that GT Sophy’s techniques actually gave her some insight into what she could improve upon when behind the wheel. “It was really exciting to see GT Sophy's racing technique,” said Jones. “I got a lot of inspiration from her.”
So, can we look forward to racing against GT Sophy in Gran Turismo 7 in the future? Yes, is the immediate answer; however, no timeframe has been given as to when the superhuman AI will hit the track. When Sophy does arrive, though, it could change the way we think about computer AI in driving games forever.
- Best racing wheels: prepare for GT Sophy's arrival
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Adam was formerly TRG's Hardware Editor. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. He is now an editor at The Shortcut.