Sony's 'GT Sophy' racing AI is taking all Gran Turismo 7 challengers

The new machine learning opponent comes to the PS5 as part of GT7's Spec II Update on November 2.

Sony AI

Nearly two years after its prototype debut and eight months after its public beta, Sony's GT Sophy racing AI for Gran Turismo 7 is back, and going by Gran Turismo Sophy 2.0 now. It will be available to all PlayStation 5 users as part of the GT7 Spec II Update (Patch Update 1.40) being released on Wednesday, November 2 at 2 a.m. ET.

We got our first look at the Sophy system back in February 2022. At that point it was already handily beating professional Gran Turismo players. “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,” Sony AI CEO, Hiroaki Kitano, said at the time. “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.”

The system's public beta this past February saw the AI competing against a small subset of the game's user base in the “Gran Turismo Sophy Race Together” event. Players who had already progressed sufficiently through the game were granted access to the special race, where they faced off against four AI-controlled opponents in a limited number of tracks.

“The difference [between racers] is that, it's essentially the power you have versus the other cars on the track,” Sony AI's COO, Michael Spranger, told Engadget in February. “You have different levels of performance. In the beginning level, you have a much more powerful vehicle — still within the same class, but you're much faster [than your competition].” That advantage shrank as players advanced through the race rounds and Sophy gained access to increasingly capable vehicles. In September, Sophy learned to drift.

“We have evolved GT Sophy from a research project tackling the grand challenge of creating an AI agent that could outperform top drivers in a top simulation racing game, to a functional game feature that provides all game players a formidable, human-like opponent that enhances the overall racing experience," Spranger said in a press statement released Wednesday.

With Wednesday's announcement, the number of vehicles Sophy can pilot rises from the meager four models available during the beta event, to 340 (yes, three hundred and forty) vehicles across nine unique tracks. Per Sony, that means players can race against GT Sophy in 95 percent of the playable in-game models and the CPU will select its car based on the player's chosen model from their garage (that way they're not randomly facing down a 918 in a Nissan Versa or are otherwise disadvantaged). The five percent of models it can't drive are the handful of hyper-spec specialty cars like the karts or Dodge SRT Tomahawk VGT.

Players can match against Sophy in Quick Race mode (formerly "Arcade") regardless of their advancement through the game or current skill level. As long as you have a PS5, a network connection and the latest update patch installed, you too can get Toretto'ed by a stack of algorithmic processes. Good luck.