Gran Turismo's Sophy AI beats a world record on the Nordschleife

sauber1.jpg
The infamous AI developped by a joint effort of Sony and Polyphony Digital comes back under the spotlight today.

A video was just posted today on the official Sony Ai youtube channel, showcasing the virtual driver beat the world record previously established by Igor Fraga on the most difficult of the Lewis Hamilton Time Trial Challenges: a lap of the Nürburgring Norschleife with the Sauber C9 on GT Sport.


While Lewis Hamilton's time was a very respectable 5:40.622, Igor Fraga, FIA GTC World Champion and Formula 3 driver, achieved the best time ever recorded by a human player with an incredible 5:26.682 lap. But that time is now good for the 2nd step of the podium only, as Sophy improved on it by a whopping 3.7 seconds margin, with only 5:22.975 to complete the lap.

The lap is quite spectacular to watch, although some of the lines taken will fuel up controversy: Sophy doesn't hesitate to use all the space the game allows before disqualifying the challenger, even if that means having most of the car on the grass. To clarify, the game takes the "2 wheels on track" rule to an extreme, so as long as 2 wheels still touch the tarmac, you're all good.

sauber2.jpg


Is this the only reason why Sophy is so fast ? According to high level Gran Turismo Esports players, the AI seems to still be stuck with the automatic gearbox as it uses 1st gear through Wehrseifen, the slowest corner of the track. This is still believed to be inefficient in that situation, which means Sophy could still unlock more potential if taught how to use a manual gearbox and shift at ideal points.

Kazunori Yamauchi has previously affirmed in an interview that the addition of Sophy in GT7 was planned for a future update, although no date estimation was given. More than just being an impossible to beat opponent, the goal is to make Sophy a true partner which would act as a teacher and a friend to players. Apparently, the AI can also be saved into different images at different states through its learning process, and provide opponent behaviors reflective of a wide variety of driver archetypes, from unsecure beginners and amateurs to experienced high split racers. If these things end up being inplemented to GT7, it should not only provide a new 3 chilis level of difficulty, but also improve the general behavior of the AI through the lower difficulty levels. But with the high amount of content in the game, we can wonder how much time will be needed to make Sophy truly ready to tackle all the cars / tracks / weather combinations possible.

Original source

About author
GT-Alex
Global motorsports enjoyer, long time simracer, Gran Turismo veteran, I've been driving alongside top drivers since the dawn of online pro leagues on Gran Turismo, and qualified for the only cancelled FIA GTC World Tour. I've left aside competitive driving in 2020 to dedicate myself to IGTL, a simracing organisation hosting high quality events for pro racers and customers, to create with friends the kind of events we wished we could have had. We strive to provide the best events for drivers and the best content for viewers, and want to help the simracing scene grow and shine further in the global esports scene.

Comments

Premium
After a hamfisted 7:45.122 time and some kisses (I lost count the fourteenth or fifteenth time I ran off the track) to the walls (in Assetto Corsa, of course), I'm sure that my smile is bigger than the one from Sophy... :)
 
Staff
Premium
Part of the problem with some racing games is that the track limits are unpredictable. I've experienced this in AC a lot (on Kunos tracks and mod tracks), and you can't even see the limits until you exceed them, on a once-per-lap basis (unless you install extra mods to monitor your on-track status). So it's beyond tedious to learn the limits precisely so you know where you can push your luck. On something as long as Nords, it's just really not practical at all for normal players.

I noted at least 5 incidents in the Sophy lap where the car was way beyond the white line with all four wheels, and was only *maybe* still "on" the kerbing. I guess the kerbing must be considered part of the track in this game?
Yesterday in Austria, it was clear that (at Spielberg at least) F1 doesn't consider the kerbing to be part of the track, since cars exceeding the white line with all four wheels were penalised. I can never remember which formulas allow which combinations of the rules (lines vs kerbing etc.).

Honestly, the off-track antics downgrade the whole performance from impressive to silly in my eyes.
 
It is just ridiculous.
The ai only presumes that shorter the line is, the fastest it is but it completely ignores the rules. Both racing rules and rules of physics.
The kerbs and grass are slippery and might slow and/or unbalance the car so it would end up amongst those trees.
And still they are proud of that...LOL
 
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Part of the problem with some racing games is that the track limits are unpredictable. I've experienced this in AC a lot (on Kunos tracks and mod tracks), and you can't even see the limits until you exceed them, on a once-per-lap basis (unless you install extra mods to monitor your on-track status). So it's beyond tedious to learn the limits precisely so you know where you can push your luck. On something as long as Nords, it's just really not practical at all for normal players.

I noted at least 5 incidents in the Sophy lap where the car was way beyond the white line with all four wheels, and was only *maybe* still "on" the kerbing. I guess the kerbing must be considered part of the track in this game?
Yesterday in Austria, it was clear that (at Spielberg at least) F1 doesn't consider the kerbing to be part of the track, since cars exceeding the white line with all four wheels were penalised. I can never remember which formulas allow which combinations of the rules (lines vs kerbing etc.).

Honestly, the off-track antics downgrade the whole performance from impressive to silly in my eyes.
Sophy raced according to the same track limit rules as Igor Fraga. Only Sophy figured out by racing 10000 laps how to exploit the track limits to the maximum. If the developers want Sophy always to stay on the track with four wheels they can alter the track limit rules and Sophy will learn to race the track according to those rules and would eventually beat Igor again.

However, you are right about unclear track limits in racing games. One thing I learned from online racing is that the aliens always know where the track limits are and always exploit them to the maximum.
 
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It is just ridiculous.
The ai only presumes that shorter the line is, the fastest it is but it completely ignores the rules. Both racing rules and rules of physics.
The kerbs and grass are slippery and might slow and/or unbalance the car so it would end up amongst those trees.
And still they are proud of that...LOL
Sophy raced according to the same physics and track limit rules as every human GT7 player. GT7 apparently does not punish the racer very hard by going off track like other games do like AC, RF2, AMS2, etc.
 
Lol GT Sophy, your cheating AI buddy.
We don't want out of this world AI making impossible laps. We want realistic and believable AI.
The funny thing is that the Sophy AI is racing according with the same physics and track limit rules as a human GT7 player. You can't make it more fair. In a lot of simulators like AC, RF2, AMS2, ACC and RRE the AI races with different physics as the human racer. Now, which games do you think are cheating?
 
Sophy raced according to the same physics and track limit rules as every human GT7 player. GT7 apparently does not punish the racer very hard by going off track like other games do like AC, RF2, AMS2, etc.
The Gran Turismo engine's biggest shortcoming right now is that the effect of dirty tyres is an on/off switch for the whole car, as opposed to being calculated separately for each tyre. If 2 or less tyres went off the track (kerb counts as track), you keep all of your grip, which is what allows Sophy to take these stupid lines.

3 or 4 tyres in the dirt (and tarmac runoff is treated as dirt) results in the car handling like junk for up to a few corners, which can make penalties for running wide in this game feel overly strict when you're already losing time.

Obviously the solution would be to simulate the dirt on each individual tyre and the Sophy experiment should make it obvious to PD that this is the next necessary step for improving realism in their engine.
 
what's the point? i don't get it :unsure:
If you want to know why, you have to know the difference between an adaptive learning ai and a preprogrammed ai and that is a long story to explain.

Without getting into detail what the differences are, a few advantages of adaptive ai like Sophy are:

1) unlike preprogrammed ai, Sophy can show a driver how to set the best laptimes with the same physics and race rules as the human driver
2) Sophy will show more realistic race behaviour (defending, overtaking, etc.) as preprogrammed ai
3) Sophy will never do anything the human racer cannot do, like driving faster than you on a long straight with the same car and setup (without slip stream off course)
 
I think the "ugliness" of the lap doesnt reflect anything bad about Sophy itself, which is actually a great achievement in AI, but about the physics of the game.

I keep saying that simracing got too "easy" in many circunstances, only to hear the same old argument "race cars are easy to drive".

Yes, they dont insta spin at 50km/h like old iracing or bad rf1 content, but the Sauber C9 is a ground effects car. Going over kerbs like that would cause catastrophic loss of downforce. Also most sims dont punish you enough for things like that, or dirty tires, or heavy braking, or abusing the front tires, or not having nearly enough wheelspin compared with the real things when you mash the throttle.

Make no mistake, a hotlap in your sim of choice usually looks very much like this.
 
Part of the problem with some racing games is that the track limits are unpredictable. I've experienced this in AC a lot (on Kunos tracks and mod tracks), and you can't even see the limits until you exceed them, on a once-per-lap basis (unless you install extra mods to monitor your on-track status). So it's beyond tedious to learn the limits precisely so you know where you can push your luck. On something as long as Nords, it's just really not practical at all for normal players.

I noted at least 5 incidents in the Sophy lap where the car was way beyond the white line with all four wheels, and was only *maybe* still "on" the kerbing. I guess the kerbing must be considered part of the track in this game?
Yesterday in Austria, it was clear that (at Spielberg at least) F1 doesn't consider the kerbing to be part of the track, since cars exceeding the white line with all four wheels were penalised. I can never remember which formulas allow which combinations of the rules (lines vs kerbing etc.).

Honestly, the off-track antics downgrade the whole performance from impressive to silly in my eyes.
Gran Turismo does consider kerbs as part of the track, generally. I say generally because there are a few cases where some track limits are way too strict, thinking of Le Mans mainly.

It's still impressive because a human player attempting these lines would probably just crash in most instances. In any case, the key point here is Sophy's ability to learn, as you can see it sometimes clips the grass slightly under braking just to get some extra rotation. I think it could actually be a great Q&A tool to put the shortcomings of a physics model in evidence.
 

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Alexandre Tonini
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