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Formula Hybrid Champions Built Their Race Car with New Drivetrain Tech

University of Victoria students placed first in the world’s toughest hybrid car competition

4 min read
An image of Jules Pare painting the car's frame.
Jules Pare preparing the frame for a fresh paint job
Photo: Nolan Tesch

THE INSTITUTEAfter months of building a high-performance hybrid vehicle, a 5,138-kilometer drive across North America, and four days of competition, the University of Victoria’sFormula Hybrid team took first place at the annual  IEEE/Society of Automotive Engineers competitionfor best overall hybrid design.

The contest, which was held this year from 28 April to 2 May, challenges undergraduates to design and build a race car with a hybrid drivetrain. The event has been hosted by Dartmouth College at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway since 2006. This year teams from 20 different schools participated. The vehicles were tested on their acceleration, endurance, maneuverability, and overall design.

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How Duolingo’s AI Learns What You Need to Learn

The AI that powers the language-learning app today could disrupt education tomorrow

9 min read
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This playful illustration shows Duolingo’s owl mascot, cut away down the midline, showing hidden inside a high-tech skeleton suggestive of some sort of AI robot.
Eddie Guy
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It’s lunchtime when your phone pings you with a green owl who cheerily reminds you to “Keep Duo Happy!” It’s a nudge from Duolingo, the popular language-learning app, whose algorithms know you’re most likely to do your 5 minutes of Spanish practice at this time of day. The app chooses its notification words based on what has worked for you in the past and the specifics of your recent achievements, adding a dash of attention-catching novelty. When you open the app, the lesson that’s queued up is calibrated for your skill level, and it includes a review of some words and concepts you flubbed during your last session.

Duolingo, with its gamelike approach and cast of bright cartoon characters, presents a simple user interface to guide learners through a curriculum that leads to language proficiency, or even fluency. But behind the scenes, sophisticated artificial-intelligence (AI) systems are at work. One system in particular, called Birdbrain, is continuously improving the learner’s experience with algorithms based on decades of research in educational psychology, combined with recent advances in machine learning. But from the learner’s perspective, it simply feels as though the green owl is getting better and better at personalizing lessons.

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