- Founder and creator of the Soulr robotic tree since ~2009.
- Firm believer/supporter that non-human rights (especially of sentient species), legally recognized is essential to saving ourselves and the planet.
- Inventor of grey water systems, plastic re-use consumer goods, and water efficient use products in addition to developing a dragonfly breeding system (because dragonflies are much better at controlling mosquitos than pesticides).
- Hope to have an electric van once they start making them. The family already has a Tesla but it’s not a workhorse type vehicle so I rarely drive it. Just purchased my first e mountain bike.
What is your field of expertise?
Electrical/Mechanical/Software/Systems engineering as it applies to robust solar renewable energy systems made for harsh environments and the climate crisis. This includes semi-transportable systems, PAYGO (Africa) systems and aesthetically accommodating systems that can blend and more easily integrate into the fabric of our society.
Describe your journey to where you are today.
Grew up in Appalachia -> BSEE West Virginia University -> 30 years of corporate engineering mostly in software and systems with some hardware design -> Realized I wasn’t contributing to the greater good and that the earth was in big trouble. I felt I was just a lackey for corporations who only thought was for the bottom line. -> I decided to change, to do my part. -> I started a company ‘Soulr’ that makes large, robotic solar renewable energy machines for the harshest environments on the planet. -> Now: trying to make that company a success.
What does your company do, for who, and how does it fit into the bigger picture of solving global issues with clean tech?
My company makes harsh environment solar renewable energy robots. I call them trees since the resemblance is hard to miss: indeed bio-mimicry was an inspiration. They’re designed to shape-shift; that is to change their form factor when they detect bad weather approaching (ie hurricanes and such). They also have user configurable aesthetics because solar traditionally has not always been aesthetically pleasing (some consider it downright ugly). Shape-shifting also means that when folded into a small form factor they can be easily shipped, ready to install and this reduces soft costs. I believe that if solar energy is to be omnipresent: It needs to better serve the harsh environment markets (coastal areas, etc). It needs to more easily and aesthetically integrate into the fabric of our societies (parks, parking lots, etc) and lastly it needs to be cheaper. It think I’ve accomplished all of the above.
What do you think is the most important thing we can be doing in terms of clean tech solutions?
I’ve recently changed my mind on hydrogen. I use to think it was only a curiosity with little practical application but significant headway has been made recently and it may be just what the doctor ordered regarding 1) storage of renewables and 2) heavy industrial uses requiring an energy dense fuel. Because hydrogen is universal it can also aid man’s exploration of space: master the particulars on earth and it should be possible to duplicate on other worlds.
Who are the clean techies you follow and / or who you think are making real things happen, and why?
All the usual characters: Musk, Bezos, Yuri Milner, and to a lesser extent Bill Gates.
Do you have a motto or personal quote you love? Something you feel is so powerful and yet simple you’d use it in your email signature?
Do What You Can, Where You Are, With What You Have. -TR
What do you wish you could tell the younger you – what would’ve been incredibly helpful to you ten years ago?
Telling the younger me would make a different me. But to answer the spirit of your question I think I would have communicated: It’s not about hedonism, not about Epicurianism but rather contribution, purpose, virtue – stoicism (in the ancient Greek tradition).
LinkedIn: Keith Allen