There was an interesting sideshow to the main Gran Turismo 7 World Series Nations Cup broadcast recently, as Sony AI and Polyphony Digital’s (PD) collaborative artificial intelligence system – codenamed Gran Turismo Sophy – showcased its abilities.
GT Sophy is a project between Sony AI and PD to help create an AI opponent in-game that organically learns and reacts to its opponents in terms of etiquette, racecraft and strategy. It is hoped the technology can also be applied in future to self-driving cars – possibly a link to Sony’s Vision-S Concept car.
The first race was set at the Sardegna Windmills off-road track, and it proved to be a Sophy whitewash at the front as ‘Sophy Rouge’ and ‘Sophy Violette’ emerged first and second respectively, across four laps of intense action.
The other AI cars came home in sixth and seventh places, offering a small glimmer of hope to the contestants. Last-place finisher Gallo was especially eager to turn things around in the next race…
Using identical Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 cars at Autodromo Lago Maggiore, Gallo made amends for race one by staying ahead of Sophy Rouge by just 0.2s at the chequered flag. On the other hand, Sophy Bleue endured a torrid time, losing control on the exit of turn four before being collected by Fraga on lap one.
Across the event, GT Sophy had notably shown it could race and beat the best human GT opponents in the world, but crucially also displayed a very vulnerable and human ability to make mistakes under pressure.
Michael Spranger, Chief Operating Officer, Sony AI stated that: “Until now, only select members of the Gran Turismo racing community have had the opportunity to race against GT Sophy. This exhibition race is one more step toward making the GT Sophy AI available to all.”
This tallies with GT founder Kazunori Yamauchi’s assertion that Sophy AI could be used in the GT series at some point. Earlier this year (18th February 2022) the GT guru said: “I think this AI will eventually be added to Gran Turismo. I think Gran Turismo Sophy will become something that all the players help develop together.”
On this showing, GT Sophy looks to be both impressively fast but still able to exhibit human-like misjudgements. Potentially, it could be a game-changer for Gran Turismo 7’s offline mode.