Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Artificial intelligence isn’t only going to take people’s jobs; it’s also going to beat everyone at Gran Turismo, according to a new development by the experts at Sony AI, Polyphony Digital, and Sony Interactive Entertainment’s cloud gaming team, who today introduced Gran Turismo Sophy, a new AI that was trained to compete with the best of the best in PlayStation’s leading racing series. Described by an executive as an “AI agent that learned to drive by itself at a very competitive level,” Sophy started off as something that couldn’t even drive in a straight line but later evolved into a proficient driver thanks to novel reinforcement learning techniques. A competition that took place in October 2021 proved that Sophy can not only beat human players but also adapt to major driving errors that could easily cost the AI a race.

Gran Turismo Sophy: Training AI to be a Champion-Level Racer (Sony Interactive Entertainment)

The First True Test

  • Gran Turismo Sophy’s large-scale training began in January 2021 and, after being put up against various Polyphony Digital team members and top GT drivers, Gran Turismo Sophy was ready for its first major test.
  • In timed trials, racers took on tracks solo and logged their times. Gran Turismo Sophy also raced the same courses solo and beat the racers times.
  • However, playing one-on-one with players was a different challenge. Gran Turismo Sophy didn’t fare so well when sharing the track with other drivers in a competitive team race.

Training with Mass-Scale Infrastructure

  • In reinforcement training, Gran Turismo Sophy was graded with positive or negative feedback based on different inputs. Some of those inputs were how fast it was going, which way the wheels are pointed, the curvature of the track, etc.
  • Mirroring how humans require an estimated 10,000+ hours to become proficient at a skill, Gran Turismo Sophy duplicated itself and took on multiple different scenarios simultaneously. This required a great deal of computing power, which was provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Returning to the Track

  • On October 21, 2021, the second race day arrived along with the hopes that Gran Turismo Sophy would win every competition, including the team race.
  • Not only did it dominate across the board, but the team also witnessed it adapt to a tough situation when it had a wipeout early in the third race and still went on to come in first place.
  • It won 1st and 2nd place in all three races and won the team score by double points against the humans.

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