Robotic Operations Company Formant Raises $6 Million In Seed Funding

By Annie Baker ● December 20, 2018

The global demand for robots is expected to surpass $77 billion by 2022, which is nearly double compared to last year. This means that there will be a growing need for humans and robots to work collaboratively even when they are not in the same physical environment — which is known as a distributed hybrid workforce.

Formant, a stealth startup founded by Google X roboticists and engineers that is building a solution aiming to make sense of robot data in industries across retail, construction, automotive, and healthcare, has raised $6 million in seed funding from SignalFire. Formant’s robot-data management solution provides the infrastructure needed for gathering and understanding complex feedback from robotic fleets.

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Founded by former Director of Robotics at Google Jeff Linnell, Formant provides a secure and flexible cloud infrastructure that enables analysis and insight into the data that machines product in a convenient way. And what makes Formant unique is that it supports engineers and non-engineers. And it can unify communications across a wide variety of roles.

“We founded Formant to answer the biggest problem that faces automation today: robots produce too much information, in disparate forms that cannot be viewed simultaneously,” said Linnell — who is the CEO of Formant. “By drawing together and translating these vast torrents of data, we can help operators and engineers speak robot – understanding their robotics operations holistically and providing the groundwork to scale faster than previously possible.”

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Linnell has spent more than a decade in robotic system design and manufacturing. And Linnell brought together a team from Google, Savioke, and Redwood Robotics to build Formant. Linnell also previously founded Bot & Dolly, which was acquired by Google. While working at Google Robotics, Linnell met Formant’s CTO Anthony Jules.

“The prevalence of autonomous machinery will grow exponentially in the coming years across a variety of industries, but there is no infrastructure in place to handle the abundance of rich sensor data that these tools will produce. Formant aims to be the premier solution to manage the data exhaust coming from these robots and turn it into valuable insights, and we’re thrilled to support them,” added SignalFire founder and CEO Chris Farmer. “Formant is uniquely positioned to facilitate the next wave of hybrid workforces.”

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