Blue Porsche GT3 car in the wet ahead of a white 911.

What is Gran Turismo’s Sophy AI?

Gran Turismo 7

Those who hate Gran Turismo‘s current AI, good news! The upcoming Sophy AI will solve all your problems by being near unbeatable.

Image credit: Gran Turismo

When it comes to single player experience, the AI in many racing games just aren’t that great. The Gran Turismo AI in particular have been held up as an example of how AI should not behave. Common complaints include how much they lift off before a corner and the way they back out of moves.

It’s the reason why, in single player races, the leading car could already be on the Mulsanne straight at Circuit de la Sarthe right as the player gets going on the start line, and the player would still be able to catch them. However, in a collaboration between Polyphony Digital and Sony, a new AI system will soon be implemented into GT7.

Defeating The Best

Named ‘Sophy’ (a portmanteau of Sony and Polyphony), this AI program has been in development since even before the launch of Gran Turismo Sport in late 2017. It has been dubbed a superhuman AI, and was developed with input from some of the top drivers in Gran Turismo.

Sophy learns how to extract more and more time with the increased distance it covers on tracks, learning new lines and techniques across all the cars it drives. It was tested in time trial and race settings against some of the Gran Turismo World Series competitors.

Across all tests, the car and track combinations were the Mercedes-AMG GT around Dragon Trail Seaside, the Porsche 911 Gr.3 car around the full Maggiore circuit and the Red Bull X2019 around Circuit de la Sarthe.

In June 2021, the Sophy AI went up against the likes of 2021 Nations Cup champion Valerio Gallo, 2018 Nations Cup champion Igor Fraga and our very own Emily Jones. In all three tests with different cars and tracks over multiple laps, the Sophy AI ended up going quicker than all of them.

The Next Test

Sophy AI would then go up against Gran Turismo competitors in racing scenarios. Up to the plate stepped four Japanese drivers: 2020 Gran Turismo triple champion Takuma Miyazono, 2018 Asia-Oceania regional champion Ryota Kokubun, two-time Manufacturers Series champion Tomoaki Yamanaka and 2019 Japan National Esports Festival Gran Turismo runner-up Shotaro Ryu.

Miyazono, Kokubun, Yamanaka and Ryu raced against four Sophy AI for the first time in July 2021 as part of the first Race Together event. Across three races, the drivers all accumulated points to contribute to their team score, and the first test ended up in favour of the GT Top Driver team with 86 points to GT Sophy Team’s 70.

Fast forward to October, and the four Japanese racers were brought back to compete against the Sophy AI. This time around, after more months of the AI developing and evolving, it was a blood bath.

Rise of the AI

In the rematch, the AI was reaching literal superhuman levels of driving. It was running on the grass and not spinning out like someone trying to cool their tyres on iRacing, and track extending like a no rules race between friends in an online lobby. Not to mention the overly aggressive passing and perfect placement of the car.

Well, we say ‘perfect placement’ but there were some instances where, as we already stated, they track extended. During the race on Circuit de la Sarthe, the AI would cut into the pitlane entry to get a rocket-ship entry towards the Ford chicanes. So, there was still some ironing out of track limit defining and aggression was needed for Sophy.

Nevertheless, after the races were done, Sophy had double the points of the drivers. Sophy had 104 to the driver’s 52, and Miyazono had this to say after the races:

I completely forgot that I was playing against an AI. It was really fun. I want to race with the agent more in the future.

Is it in the game?

With further testing still ongoing to refine the rough edges, and assistance from former GT Academy finalist Timothy Grossenbacher, it will still be a while before Sophy is integrated into the game.

Hopefully it’s implemented in the not too distant future and there’s at least a skill and aggression level, because if it can easily defeat the best players in the game, what hope do us mere mortals have?

Are you looking forward to racing against Sophy AI in Gran Turismo 7? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

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