Weekly Recap: RIP VHS, NES Mini, SwagBot, Next Future Transportation, Aquila


VHS Tape. Photo Woranan.

Funai Electric Company, the last surviving maker of VHS videocassette recorders — mostly sold under the Sanyo brand — announced it would cease production this summer. In 2015, the Japanese company sold just 750 000 recorders. The closure marks the death of the VHS era, born 40 years ago when Victor Company of Japan (JVC) launched the Video Home System (VHS) cassette format. Since 1976, new formats, such as DVD (1996) and Blu-ray (2003) have supplanted VHS. But even their days are numbered, as technology evolves towards the elimination of physical devices in favour of downloadable media.

Ars Technica, “Last known VCR maker stops production, 40 years after VHS format launch.”

NES Mini

NES Classic boxes.

Set for a November release, the NES Mini is a miniaturized replica of the famous console we remember from the ‘80s. It features an HDMI video port and comes pre-loaded with 30 classic Nintendo games such as Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Pac-Man. The NES Mini will retail for CA $80.

Ars Technica, “Surprise: Nintendo’s next console is the NES.”


SwagBot is an Australian robot designed to help farmers and ranchers. Is it time for cowboys and guard dogs to update their CVs?

Circuit Breaker, “SwagBot + Human = Friends.”

Next Future Transportation

Could electric, self-driving pods be the future of transit? The concept developed by Italian company Next Future Transportation is certainly appealing. The pods share a network and can drive individually or clamp onto other pods to allow passengers to transfer. Careem, a Middle-Eastern competitor to Uber, has just signed a cooperation agreement with Next.

Mashable, “Forget cars: An Uber rival is looking to self-driving pods to change transportation.”

The Eagle has Risen

Facebook’s solar-powered plane.

As wide as a Boeing 737, Facebook’s solar-powered drone will bring the Internet to Internet deserts. Aquila’s maiden flight, a 90-minute soar over the Arizona desert, was a success. Aquila will have an autonomous flight capacity of three months at 60,000 feet (18.3 km).

The Guardian, “Facebook’s solar-powered internet plane takes flight.”