Sony AI, Polyphony Digital and Sony Interactive Entertainment have developed an artificial intelligence that can beat professional e-sports drivers in GT Sport. The AI will be added to Gran Turismo 7 in the future through an update.
GT Sophy on the cover of Nature
Unlike computer-assisted drivers in rules-bound racing games, the GT Sophy-AI has learned to drive itself and can make its own decisions and adapt to opponents. According to the makers, the AI performs at a global level and adheres to ethics and rules that apply to racing at a professional level.
GT Sophy has been developed over the past two years by Sony AI, a research division founded in 2020. The division has collaborated with Gran Turismo developer Polyphony Digital and tested the AI in GT Sport. Sony Interactive Entertainment’s cloud servers were used to train the artificial intelligence. Sony AI researchers have written a paper on GT Sophy titled Outracing champion Gran Turismo drivers with deep reinforcement learning. The paper was published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.
Gran Turismo 7 will be released on March 4 for the PlayStation 4 and 5, but GT Sophy will not be available there yet. The plan is that the AI will be added later via an update, but when exactly and how it will be deployed is not yet known. At the presentation of GT Sophy, the makers say that they think the AI is suitable for teaching players to race, for example.
Tests with GT Sophy in GT Sports
Last year, Sony conducted the first tests with GT Sophy, in the racing game GT Sports. The AI soon managed to win time trials, but initially struggled with other drivers on the track. According to project leader and Sony AI director Peter Wurman, the team had underestimated how difficult it was to get the AI to race sportively, without being too aggressive or too careful in front of other drivers.
In July 2021, GT Sophy took on a team of the best e-athletes in GT Sport for the first time. The human opponents narrowly beat the AI team over three races with 86 to 70 points. At a second race in October, with an improved version of the AI, the e-athletes had no chance and GT Sophy won all races. The score over three races then came to 104 points for the AI, compared to 52 points for the drivers.
Kazunori Yamauchi, the producer of Gran Turismo, who is also a racing driver, praises the way GT Sophy can drive without committing any fouls. He argues that human drivers can learn from that, because the AI sometimes chooses racing lines that human drivers wouldn’t think of.