Called Gran Turismo Sophy (“GT Sophy”), the AI is claimed to be the first superhuman AI agent to outrace the world’s best drivers of the highly realistic PlayStation racing simulation game Gran Turismo (GT) Sport. GT Sophy is an autonomous AI agent trained utilizing a novel deep reinforcement learning platform developed in collaboration between Sony AI, PDI, and SIE.
“Many potential applications of artificial intelligence involve making real-time decisions in physical systems while interacting with humans,” say the researchers. “Automobile racing represents an extreme example of these conditions; drivers must execute complex tactical manoeuvers to pass or block opponents while operating their vehicles at their traction limits1. Racing simulations, such as the PlayStation game Gran Turismo, faithfully reproduce the non-linear control challenges of real race cars while also encapsulating the complex multi-agent interactions.”
The collaborative project brought together expertise in fundamental AI research and development, a hyper-realistic real world racing simulator, and infrastructure for massive scale AI training. GT Sophy was trained to master the following driving skills needed to compete with the world’s best championship-level drivers:
- Race Car Control: Deep understanding of car dynamics, racing lines, and precision maneuvers to conquer challenging tracks.
- Racing Tactics: Split-second decision-making skills in response to rapidly evolving racing situations. GT Sophy showed mastery of tactics including slipstream passing, crossover passes and even some defensive maneuvers such as blocking.
- Racing Etiquette: Essential for fair play, GT Sophy had to conform to highly refined, but imprecisely specified, sportsmanship rules including avoiding at-fault collisions and respecting opponent driving lines.
Sony AI and its partners built a novel deep reinforcement learning approach and platform since no existing combination of algorithms and infrastructure could solve this challenge. Mastering the complex sport of race car driving in the highly realistic driving simulator Gran Turismo Sport represents a new breakthrough in AI, say the researchers.
Sony AI tested the capabilities of GT Sophy by racing against four of the world’s best Gran Turismo drivers in two Race Together 2021 Challenge events, which took place on July 2, 2021 and October 21, 2021. By making improvements to the agent based on the results of the first race, GT Sophy outperformed the best human GT drivers in both time trial races and an FIA-Certified Gran Turismo Championships format race for the second event in October.
“Gran Turismo Sophy is a significant development in AI whose purpose is not simply to be better than human players, but to offer players a stimulating opponent that can accelerate and elevate the players’ techniques and creativity to the next level,” says Hiroaki Kitano, CEO of Sony AI. “In addition to making contributions to the gaming community, we believe this breakthrough presents new opportunities in areas such as autonomous racing, autonomous driving, high-speed robotics and control.”
In addition to the technical breakthrough, the deep collaboration between PDI and Sony AI demonstrates how AI can deliver new gaming experiences to players, say the researchers, and together they will explore how to integrate GT Sophy into future releases of the Gran Turismo series. For more, see “Outracing champion Gran Turismo drivers with deep reinforcement learning.”