Sony AI, a subsidiary of the Japanese tech giant that researches artificial intelligence and robotics, has announced Gran Turismo Sophy, a ‘superhuman AI agent’ that can outrace the best GT Sport racers in the world.
Let me cut to the chase. This is not about the performance of your computer-controlled rivals within the Gran Turismo 7 game – something that will surely play a greater role with the expanded single-player career.
No, this is AI in a research and development sense, for something that could be used in the future, far ahead of 4th March 2022.
That isn’t limited to video games or simulators either, but in potential future applications such as autonomous driving.
Beatest the world’s best Gran Turismo racers
GT Sophy has been learning GT Sport through countless hours of practice, including two race events in July and October 2021, beating FIA Gran Turismo esports drivers such as 2020 Nations Cup and Manufacturer Series champion Takuma Miyazono.
“I completely forgot that I was playing against AI. It was really fun. I want to race with the agent more in the future,” explained the Japanese driver.
Popular sim racer, Twitch streamer and 2020 FIA Gran Turismo finalist Emily Jones, aka Emree, was also present during the test events.
“It was really exciting to see GT Sophy’s racing technique. I got a lot of inspiration from her.”
In the future, maybe
It’s said that Sony AI and Gran Turismo Developer Polyphony Digital will explore how to integrate GT Sophy into future releases of the gaming series – but we suspect this is not a firm plan, more of an open-ended discussion when development limitations are overcome.
The algorithm has trained to drive, and best, sim racing competitors across three pillars: car control, racing tactics and racing etiquette. It’s not following a pre-determined path per se, but activity changing attacking and defensive tactics on the fly in response to human rivals.
“I believe that this AI concept will contribute to both the future of games and automobiles,” said series producer Kazunori Yamauchi.
“AI research is a good opportunity to really think about what it means to be human and how technology and society can better co-exist.
“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 the official Gran Turismo Sophy microsite, it states: “Sony AI will continue to upgrade GT Sophy’s capabilities as well as explore ways in which the agent can potentially be integrated into the Gran Turismo series going forward.”
In the second of the races against FIA Gran Turismo drivers, you can see that GT Sophy is incredibly quick and ruthless – win at no cost, which ultimately is what the mentally professional esports drivers is.
AI development is clearly an important technological race and what has been achieved here looks to be groundbreaking. But, a new AI system for the Gran Turismo 7 career, this most certainly isn’t – yet.
Update – GT Sophy’s potential Gran Turismo 7 usage
In a Japanese-language media event, slides were presented to showcase the AI’s potential use within Gran Turismo 7. It highlights the potential for use within the upcoming racing as a trainer or ‘friend in races’, but seemingly not as your main race opponent.
Remember how difficult it was to achieve a diamond rating in GT Sport’s Lewis Hamilton add-on content? Yeh, that.
As we currently lack a translation of what Yamauchi is saying, it’s best to take this as a proof of concept at this stage, as opposed to the confirmation of its inclusion. The slide is clearly marked as a ‘Design Concept’, perhaps a hypothesis of potential use cases.
The phrase “We want to deliver Gran Turismo Sophy to all players through a future Gran Turismo 7” is used, but the word ‘want’ doesn’t mean ‘will’.