Meet Gran Turismo Sophy: a new AI that can beat GT Sport’s best drivers

Sony dropped a mysterious teaser this week previewing a new “breakthrough" AI system created in collaboration with Polyphony Digital, the developer of Gran Turismo 7. However, it wasn’t clear if the revolutionary AI system is connected with GT7. But if there’s one element that needs improving in Gran Turismo games, it’s the AI.

Today, Sony AI, a Sony AI development team, unveiled Gran Turismo Sophy, the “first superhuman AI agent” that can outperform the world’s fastest Gran Turismo Sport drivers.

An AI breakthrough

According to Sony AI, GT Sophy will “deliver new AI-powered gaming experiences to players around the world.”

Sony’s autonomous AI agent was trained by a “deep reinforcement learning platform” developed by Sony AI, Polyphony Digital, and Sony Interactive Entertainment.

To compete with GT Sport’s best drivers, Sony AI trained GT Sophy to master car control. During the training, the AI gained a “deep understanding of car dynamics, racing lines, and precision manoeuvres.”

In addition, GT Sophy learned real-life racing techniques like slipstreaming, crossover passes, and defensive blocking. It can also make split-second decisions in response to situations. As for driver etiquette, the AI system can drive fairly, avoid causing collisions, and respect other driver positions on the track.   

Gran Turismo Sophy AI can beat GT Sport’s best players

To test Gran Turismo Sophy, the AI agent raced against four of the world’s best Gran Turismo drivers including Takuma Miyazono, Shotaro Ryu, Igor Fraga, and Emily Jones.

When the AI was improved after the first race, GT Sophy was faster than the human drivers in time trials and an FIA-certified GT Championship race.  

Gran Turismo Sophy
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The advanced Gran Turismo Sophy AI will be implemented in future GT games

“I completely forgot that I was playing against AI,” said Takuma Miyazono, FIA Gran Turismo Championships 2020 Champion. “It was really fun. I want to race with the agent more in the future.”

Will Gran Turismo Sophy AI be in GT7?

To be clear, this new AI won’t be implemented in GT7 – at least not at launch. Instead, Sony AI and Polyphony will “explore how to integrate GT Sophy into future releases of the Gran Turismo series.”

UPDATE: Since publication, Kazunori Yamauchi has confirmed that "we want to deliver Gran Turismo Sophy to all players through a future Gran Turismo 7 update."

This doesn’t mean GT7 won’t have improved AI, though. In an interview with Spanish website MeriStation, Kazunori said GT7’s AI will be “faster” and “drive in a more human way.”

Nevertheless, this is an exciting development for the future of driver AI. It would create more realistic AI opponents to race against and help train novices to become better drivers. It won't just affect racing games, either: Sony AI is also confident that the self-learning AI tech will improve self-driving cars in the real world.

“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.”

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