Formant raises $18M to help companies manage fleets of robots

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The robotics industry continues to grow as the enterprise seeks to automate the growing number of processes in their organizations. According to McKinsey, 88% of businesses plan to fold robotics automation into their infrastructure in the coming months. And North American-based companies ordered more than 31,000 robotics systems in 2020, bringing the industry’s revenue to an estimated 1.5 billion – a testament to the segment’s strength.

There is a legitimate fear that robots could alter some of the functions performed by humans. A recent MIT study found that each robot added to the workforce has the effect of changing 3.3 jobs, while Oxford Economics estimates that robots will displace 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030. Robots, on the other hand, can work – and work – together to solve complex human problems. The Loop Ventures report predicts that 34% of robots sold will be associate by 2025, with the “associate robotics” market reaching $ 1 billion in revenue by 2020.

Collaborative or otherwise, orchestrating robots require accessible tools for engineers as well as business decision makers in the companies that deploy them. One supplier is Formant, a startup founded by former Google, Savioke, and Redwood robotics software engineers, roboticists, and product managers to develop a cloud-based platform to manage a large fleet of robots. Ferment, which announced today that it has raised $ 18 million in the Signalfire-led Series A round, claims its solution enables companies to operate, observe and analyze robots from almost anywhere, including remote.

Management of robots

Jeff Linel, founder of Formant, says that early in his robotics career, it became clear that companies needed a platform where they could operate all their machines and autonomous devices. Linel previously co-founded Bot & Dolly, a boutique design studio specializing in combining giant mechanical arms with custom software for movies, acquired by Google in 2014.


Above: With Forment, companies can monitor – and take control of – their robot fleets in real time.

Image Credit: Formant

After serving as head of product at Google’s robotics division, Linel teamed up with automation veterans and engineers to find the ferment. “We quickly discovered that every robotics company is unique. So in addition to our core functionality, we also made an initial investment in the API to create Formant’s [product] To enable extensible and customers to create custom apps within Formant using our data and infrastructure, “he said in a statement.

Formant allows companies to monitor the robot fleet, receive alerts and perform root cause analysis when something goes wrong. Using the platform, customers can view historical and live telemetry data, setting up safety, efficiency and performance monitoring dashboards for fleet operators and business analysts. Format can run aggregation on fleet data with parameters including job site, customer area and hardware version and insights come to the surface and help define objectives. Additionally, the software allows employees to work together to tag and share moments of interest – or to work with field operations teams to capture and upload additional data feeds, such as video clips.

“The shortage of workers in the world of robotics has drawn a lot of attention and how robots can cope with dull, dirty and dangerous jobs that are currently difficult to fill,” Linel told VentureBeat via email. “Forment [gives] Providing a ‘DVR of data’ gives customers visibility into the behavior of individual robots that stream all important data (such as camera feed, location and status) from the device and allow it to be viewed in real time or historically. We give operators the ability to remotely control the robot if there is a problem. [And we] Give stakeholders a high-level view of their fleet data to analyze operations and link robotic operations to business goals. “


Formant lets teams take control of their robots from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Its intervention builder can integrate with existing helpdesk tools to help identify problematic edge cases, while Formant’s report creation tool exports metrics and trends (e.g., technical failures, battery life, distance travel, sensor temperature) to stakeholders. Can turn into doable one-pagers. .

Emerging market

Formant’s platform, which supports more than 200 robot types, handles 50,000 live video streams and 5 billion data points per month, according to Linel. Current clients include early-stage robotics startups such as Fortune 100s and early-stage robotics startups such as BP, Canvas, Diligent, Graze, Burro, and John Deere’s subsidiary Blue River, which use ferment to obtain data generated by robotic farm machinery on farms.

“Ferment has been crucial in measuring our robotics company,” Charlie Andersen, CEO and founder of the bureau, said in a press release. “The people we sell want to run 5,000 robots around their farms – and they want to sit in a room and watch them on the screen. This is where the world is moving right now, and Ferment is helping us make it a reality. “

Formant SVT competes in robotics, a software provider that organizes robots in warehouses and factories. Brain Corp, one of the largest players in space, provides a comparable orchestration platform for robots operating in fulfillment centers, airports and leisure environments. For its part, Amazon recently launched AWS IoT RoboRunner, a robotics service available through Amazon Web Services designed to make it easy for an enterprise to create apps that enable a fleet of robots to work together.


But Linel says the 20-employee Forment is on track to double in size in 2022. This latest investment round – which included the participation of Hillswen, Paleon, Goodyear Ventures, Thursday Ventures, Ericsson, Pix Capital and Holman Strategic Ventures – will support the customer. Acquisition growth and “help Formant better serve its growing number of customers and partners,” he added.

“The new money is mostly for go-to-market teams, as well as increasing our customer support and success team. On the product side, we will invest heavily in our integration and APIs, ensuring that Formant is extensible and our customers can easily build their applications and workflows within our platform, “said Linel.

Formant’s total capital is now 23 million.


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