Gran Turismo Sophy AI Defeats Lewis Hamilton’s Nurburgring Lap Time by 17 Seconds

GT Sport image by Raph LeFou

It has been a while since we last heard about Gran Turismo Sophy, the cutting-edge artificial intelligence system developed by Polyphony Digital in collaboration with Sony AI, but it’s back with a vengeance and faster than ever.

If you need a refresher, check our deep dive on how Gran Turismo Sophy actually works including an exclusive interview with GT series creator Kazunori Yamauchi and the head of Sony AI America, Peter Wurman. In summary, it’s an AI system trained with neural networks instead of the traditional rules-based AI that has appeared in every Gran Turismo until now. (And no, Sophy isn’t in Gran Turismo 7 yet, but will be coming in a future update.)

Polyphony Digital and Sony AI have been quiet about Sophy since it was revealed in February, but a new video was uploaded to the Sony AI YouTube channel which shows the digital driver in action once again.

This time, it’s driving the Mercedes C9 ’89 on Racing Hard tires at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in GT Sport’s Lewis Hamilton Time Trial Challenge. It completed the lap in 5:22.975 — more than 17 seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton’s own benchmark.

It’s an impressive feat, and just a few seconds off the official real-world record time of 5:19.546 currently held by the Porsche 919 Hybrid EVO. However, watching the video it’s clear the AI is taking more than a few liberties with GT Sport’s track limits to get the absolute most out of the car — but it’s still a valid lap in the game.

Before you get too intimidated by Sophy’s skills, keep in mind this latest video is still just a technical showcase of what the new AI system is capable of. As Kazunori Yamauchi said in our most recent interview, he intends for Sophy to appear in Gran Turismo 7 “as a teacher that will teach driving to players, a student that will learn sportsmanship from players, and as a friend to race with.” Sony AI’s Peter Wurman confirmed the team’s “ultimate goal is to create an agent that can give players of all kinds an exciting race experience.”

To see how Sophy handles interacting with other players, be sure to check out Polyphony Digital’s “Race Together” live streams from private live events held last year:

Race Together 2021 – Day 1
Race Together 2021 – Day 2

Thanks to Veinz for the tip!

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