On Monday, the Sony AI YouTube channel posted a brief teaser video hinting at a new creation in collaboration with Gran Turismo 7 developer Polyphony Digital. The specifics of this “breakthrough” project were just revealed, and fans of the popular racing franchise might be pleased.
Sony has announced that its team of researchers have developed a “reliably superhuman” AI driver named GT Sophy able to beat high-ranking human drivers in Gran Turismo Sport in back-to-back laps. While this may not seem too difficult to those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of artificial intelligence, experts in both video game racing titles and AI say that sophy’s success is a massive breakthrough, with the agent able to properly develop tactics and implement helpful strategies to take down opponents.
“Outracing human drivers so skilfully in a head-to-head competition represents a landmark achievement for AI. GT Sophy’s success on the track suggests that neural networks might one day have a larger role in the software of automated vehicles than they do today,” wrote Stanford automotive professor J. Christian Gerdes.
In a blog post made on Sony AI’s blog, the team described the many challenges in making Sophy a reality. To start, the AI had to learn Gran Turismo‘s physics engine–a difficult task, given that the franchise calls itself the most realistic driving simulator to exist. After that, Sophy had to learn how to race against human players, making it necessary to learn real-world tactics like driving against walls, drifting, and overtaking an opponent without resorting to cheating. While the dev team made the AI possible, Sony AI gathered anonymous data from the PlayStation network, analyzing thousands of races from real Gran Turismo games.
GT Sophy’s final test was against Emily Jones, the 2020 World Finalist at the FIA Gran Turismo Championships.
“It is very fast. Way faster than I was expecting. The way that it drove was completely different to the way that I drove certain corners,” Jones said.
Sony has not yet revealed when Sophy will be implemented, or in which titles. It’s unclear whether she will be implemented in Gran Turismo 7 when it releases on March 4.