Gran Turismo Players Will Soon Race Against Sophy, a Champion-Level AI Driver

Gran Turismo Sport screenshot 6 photos
Photo: Polyphony Digital
Gran Turismo Sport competitionGran Turismo Sport competitionGran Turismo Sport competitionGran Turismo Sport competitionGran Turismo Sport competition
We already know that Gran Turismo 7 is going for the ultimate racing simulator experience, but we didn’t expect Sony and Polyphony Digital to go that far with the simulation aspect. The companies revealed this week it created an AI specifically for Gran Turismo games, and while it’s still being improved, Sophy has already beaten the best Gran Turismo players in the world.
A collaboration between Polyphony Digital, Sony AI, and Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), Gran Turismo Sophy is an AI agent specifically designed for a hyper-realistic racing simulation experience that requires rapid decisions when competing against opponents.

Sophy has learned everything by itself and started from a blank slate. The more races the AI would finish, the more things it will learn. Ultimately, it adapted so well to the requirements of a racing simulation experience that it managed to beat the best Gran Turismo players in the world after being fine-tuned a little bit.

What’s scary is that Sophy was able to learn so much about racing in a very short amount of time. The project’s large-scale training started in January 2021 and, after it had competed against various Polyphony Digital team members and top GT drivers, Sophy was finally ready for another kind of test.

Sony has invited a team that included Takuma Miyazono, the top Gran Turismo Sport driver in the world, and three other top drivers. A competition between the humans and AI team took place on July 2, 2021, which consisted of three races across three tracks and three car combinations.

Gran Turismo Sport competition
Photo: Sony
Unfortunately, Sophy didn’t fare so well when racing against other drivers in a competitive team race, although it performed admirably during timed trials that required solo racing and managed to beat every human racer’s time.

I think we all underestimated how hard it would be to get the sportsmanship side of it right and learn to do that without being overly aggressive or overly timid in the face of competitors,” said Peter Wurman, Sony AI Director and Project Lead.

To make it perform better when racing against human drivers, the Gran Turismo team started to grade Sophy with positive or negative feedback based on different inputs. For example, Sophy would be graded for how fast it was going, which way the wheels were pointed, the curvature of the track, and so. It was a reward system meant to shape up Sophy’s racing style in such a way that it would be aggressive but not aggressive enoughto  push other racers off the road.

Instead of racing over 10,000 hours to hone its skills and become as proficient as some of the best GT drivers, Sophy duplicated itself and took on multiple different scenarios at the same time.

The second race that had Sophy compete with the same team of top GT drivers took place on October 21, 2021, so less than half a year from the first competition. It ended in crushing defeat for the humans’ team, as Gran Turismo Sophy managed to win all three races, including the team race. Not to mention that Sophy took away both first and second places in each of these races.

Gran Turismo Sport competition
Photo: Sony
This is just an example of an AI agent that learned to drive by itself in a short amount of time and is now being able to compete with the best Gran Turismo drivers in the world. Evolving from a blank state to probably the best AI race driver in the world is truly a great achievement, although some would argue that much of the work has been done by the AI itself.

Called “reinforcement learning,” the innovative training technique required a huge amount of computing power, which was provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Thanks to SIE’s help, the Gran Turismo Sophy team was able to run tens of thousands of simultaneous simulations using top-notch learning algorithms and training scenarios in a very short time.

Although Sony has already confirmed plans to implement GT Sophy into upcoming Gran Turismo games, the Japanese company didn’t provide any ETA, which means we don’t know if it’s coming with Gran Turismo 7 on March 4.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories