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Self-driving race cars make history in Indianapolis

The winner was not a driver but an algorithm at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the top car clocked an average speed of 218km/h, ushering autonomous vehicles into a new era.

Setting the record pace over two laps, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) won a $1m prize in the first Indy Autonomous Challenge, an event dedicated to self-driving cars.

Their car beat EuroRacing, another European team who fell to a coding mistake by one of their student engineers despite securing the fastest lap time ever recorded for an autonomous car, at 223km/h.

EuroRacing’s Dallara IL-15 had been programmed to run five laps instead of the six scheduled for every competitor and therefore slowed down during its final drive around the oval, bringing down the average speed.

“I have a bitter taste in my mouth,” said Marko Bertogna, professor at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy and EuroRacing team head.


Madrid taken over by hundreds of sheep for annual festival

The streets of Madrid were filled with sheep and the clanking of bells as shepherds guided their flocks through the heart of the Spanish capital, following ancient seasonal herding routes.

Locals lined the route to welcome back the spectacle, which was cancelled last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The annual event, which started in 1994, allows shepherds to exercise their right to use traditional routes to herd their livestock from northern Spain to more southerly pastures for winter grazing.

The route would have taken them through quiet countryside a few centuries ago, but today sees them traverse the busy city.

“It’s marvellous. I come every year and this is the first year I’ve brought the children so it’s amazing,” said Graciela Gonzalez, 39.

The sheep walked to the sound of their jangling neck bells. Shepherds dressed in traditional dress accompanied their flocks with folk music and dancing.


Start-up launches €585,000 hoverbike in Japan

A Japanese start-up is hoping to convince motorists to swap their cars for a €585,000 hoverbike, the BBC reports.

ALI Technologies’ XTurismo Limited Edition went on sale in Japan last week.

Electronics giant Mitsubishi and footballer Keisuke Honda are two backers of the Tokyo-based company.

ALI Technologies says the hoverbike can fly for 40 minutes at up to 100km/h (62mph) on a single charge.

The company aims to have manufactured 200 single-rider 300kg (47-stone) hoverbikes by mid-2022.

Each is equipped with a conventional engine and four battery-powered motors.

“Until now, the choice has been to move on the ground or at scale in the sky,” ALI Technologies chief executive Daisuke Katano said.

“We hope to offer a new method of movement.”