Last year, Sony AI and Polyphony Digital, the developers of Gran Turismo, developed a new AI agent that is able to race at a world-class level. At the time, the experiment was described in a paper in Nature, where the researchers showed that this AI was not only capable of driving very fast—something other AI have done in the past—but also learned tactics, strategy, and even racing etiquette.
At the time, GT Sophy—the name of the AI—wasn’t quite ready for prime time. For example, it often passed opponents at the earliest opportunity on a straight, allowing itself to be overtaken in the next braking zone. And unlike human players, GT Sophy would try to overtake players with impending time penalties—humans would just wait for that penalized car to slow to gain the place.
But in the intervening year, Sony AI and Polyphony Digital have been working on GT Sophy, and tomorrow (February 21), GT Sophy rolls out to Gran Turismo 7 as part of update 1.29, at least for a limited time. Until the end of March, players can try their skills against Sophy in the GT Sophy Race Together mode in a series of races with increasing difficulty levels. There’s also a one-versus-one match where you race Sophy in identical cars, so you can see how much slower you are than the AI.
“This evolution of AI is a symbolic moment across the 25-year history of Gran Turismo, and it’s as important as the evolution of the automotive physics simulation, which is at the heart and core of a racing game,” said Kazunori Yamauchi, president of Polyphony Digital.
“Unlike the conventional built-in AI, GT Sophy drives with continuity in a large variety of situations, which allows users to enjoy the excitement of a close battle as if they are playing against a professional racing driver. This is an important evolution even from the standpoint of racing game history. We will continue to evolve GT Sophy to realize our concept of “Race Together,” where we envision providing a fun opponent for players to race against and learn from,” Yamauchi said.
Although this version of Sophy will be time-limited in the game, it won’t be the last we see of the AI. Sony says it will collect feedback on this initial feature and use that to improve the AI for future updates.
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to seeing how badly I get schooled. I don’t think it’s going to be pretty…