Since its inception in 1997, the Gran Turismo series has always pushed the boundaries of PlayStation tech, so it makes a lot of sense that the racing sim was selected as the testing ground for Sony AI’s latest project.
A collaborative project between Polyphony Digital Inc., Sony AI and Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), Gran Turismo Sophy has been dubbed a “superhuman AI agent” that can outrace the best GT players the world has to offer.
The autonomous AI agent was trained to pay specific attention to car control, racing tactics and racing etiquette, with the team behind it employing a deep reinforcement learning approach, effectively praising Sophy when it performs well and doing the opposite when it doesn’t.
Utilising SIE’s cloud gaming network, it was taught to master car dynamics and racing lines, as well as split-second decision-making and tried and tested tactics such as slipstream passing and blocking. With fair play obviously important to the game, Sophy also had to conform to sportsmanship guidelines, avoiding collisions where possible and respecting opponent driving lines.
“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.”
To back up its claims about Gran Turismo Sophy’s prowess on the track, it was pitted against four of the best Gran Turismo players in the world at the Race Together 2021 Challenge back in the summer of 2021, and Sophy outperformed the human experts at both races and in time trial events.
Gran Turismo 7 is just around the corner, and Sophy (following an update post-launch) will be able to coach players with advanced driving techniques to help them improve on the track.