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Jim Keravala and His Robots Are Boldly Going Where No One Has Gone Before

March 17, 2020

Growing up, Blade Runner was one of my favorite movies. I’ve been a big fan of Peter Diamandis and his books Abundance and Bold. Both make me think about the infinite abundance of materials available to us in space.

Enter Jim Keravala, co-founder and CEO of OffWorld, who I recently got to talk to about the incredible things he’s doing with robots and building in outer space.

OffWorld’s ambition is to build infrastructure in space so that civilization can expand into the solar system and beyond in addition to building industrial processes and capabilities in space to help rebalance Earth’s ecosystem.

The company’s challenge was to find a future-paced business model that works right now. OffWorld treats Earth as a celestial body; today, their autonomous, industrial, robotic workforce of AI-powered robots operate on Earth in the mining, construction and infrastructure repair sectors, including city sewers and seabed operations. These robots perform dangerous jobs, which are normally done by humans, with a high degree of collaborative intelligence so that they move people out of harm's way.

While OffWorld is building its space program on the backs of commercial contracts, they’re simultaneously building a platform for expansion into the solar system.

OffWorld has a great prototyping platform and an opportunity to test everything here on Earth, get paid while they're doing it, prove the model, and then launch the program on the Moon, Mars or beyond. The company’s intention is to become a multibillion-dollar company here on Earth and use the revenue to underwrite pilot projects in space.

Where did this crazy idea come from?

Jim has been passionate about getting humans off the surface of the Earth and into outer space since he read An Essay on the Principle of Population by Thomas Robert Malthus as a teenager. The premise of the book is that if you're in any closed economy or system, at some point, you're going to reach an imbalance of resources, run out of space for your waste products, and inhibit the possibility for population expansion.

While the book was primarily about regional boundaries, young Jim was a complete space nut and immediately expanded that into the Earth and space arena. He realized that conceptually, we are in a closed system if we stay on this planet. That’s when his passion for expanding beyond the Earth's atmosphere began.

It was a fascinating, eye-opening experience chatting with Jim Keravala at the Near Future Summit. If you’re interested in space and what’s to come in the very near future, download and listen to my podcast interview with him here.

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