With the release of Gran Turismo 7 racing ever nearer, the latest feature for Polyphony Digital's game has been unveviled - and while it won't be ready for launch, it could be one of the more interesting innovations in the PlayStation exclusive.
Dubbed Gran Turismo Sophy, the feature is the first fruit from Sony AI, a division set up in 2020 to help Sony 'accelerate into an AI powered creative entertainment company' in the words of CEO Kenichiro Yoshida.
Developed in partnership with Polyphony Digital and Sony Interactive Entertainment's cloud gaming team, Sophy is being positioned as a breakthrough in AI development. Sophy draws upon both a neural and distributed training network implemented through Sony's cloud gaming infrastructure, with reinforcement learning built around three core skills: staying on track, driving without losing control and overtaking opponents while learning etiquette.
Sophy's been learning via Gran Turismo Sport, and has evolved through match-ups with some of Gran Turismo Sport's best drivers. A live demo race took place during today's presentation, showing an AI opponent that was not only able to race wheel to wheel against Gran Turismo Sport's finest but also showed smart positioning and race etiquette in the three lap sprint.
Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi was enjoyably lofty in his summation of the project.
"We are pursuing beauty, and we want a positive effect on society like a bright light shining," Yamauchi said during the presentation. "What kind of AI can we design so it can give joy to people - it has to drive fast, and it has to drive simple. The AI agent always has to handle the various environments, and it has to appear natural. With conventional rule-based AI, this could not be done - it would only react to a certain condition and follow the same rules, so people could detect it's a machine and not a human. With Gran Turismo Sophy, we've made a breakthrough.
Yamuchi went on to say that Sophy will be able to coach drivers while also learning racing etiquette from them, detailing how he wants Sophy to be a companion to Gran Turismo 7 players as well as a competitor. It's exciting stuff, but don't expect to go up against Sophy just yet as it's set to appear in a future Gran Turismo 7 update coming at an as-yet-undisclosed date.
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