Robotics data and operations startup Formant raises $18 million

Formant, a robotics data and operations platform, has completed an $18 million series A funding round.

The investment was led by SignalFire, with participation from Hillsven, Pelion, Goodyear Ventures, Thursday Ventures, Ericsson, Picus Capital, and Holman Strategic Ventures.

Founded in 2017, Formant is a cloud-based platform for managing fleets of heterogeneous robots.

Formant’s platform enables companies to operate, observe, and analyze robots from anywhere, meeting the growing need of robotics companies looking to scale their fleets.

Formant founder and CEO Jeff Linnell encountered that need first hand while at the helm of the robot-infused creative studio Bot & Dolly.

Linell says: “The more I saw robots deployed in the real world, the more it became clear that companies needed a single platform where they could manage all their devices.”

Bot & Dolly was eventually acquired by Google, and after serving as head of product for Google’s Robotics division, Linnell teamed up with robotics veterans Savioke and Redwood Robotics to found Formant.

Linnell adds: “We quickly found that every robotics company is unique.

“So in addition to our core functionality we also invested early-on in APIs to make Formant’s platform extensible and to empower customers to build custom apps inside Formant, using our data and infrastructure.”

Formant’s customers, which range in size from early-stage robotics startups to Fortune 100s, are using robots to tackle dirty, dangerous, and dull jobs in agriculture, energy, and other industries.

One such company is John Deere subsidiary Blue River Technology, which is using Formant to capture and process data generated by intelligent farm machinery out in the fields.

Ugur Oezdemir, senior manager of robotics at Blue River, says: “We’re using robotics and machine learning to solve monumental challenges for our customers.

“Formant provides us with a scalable back end to help process data from devices and make faster decisions.”

Formant also helps robotics startups bring products to market faster and successfully scale their fleets.

Charlie Andersen, founder and CEO of Burro, which recently raised $12 million for its autonomous farming carts, says: “Scaling a robotics business from a few machines to hundreds to thousands is immensely difficult.

“For us this is especially true because our machines are run by end users who push our autonomy into ever more challenging scenarios the more we have running.

“Into this challenge, Formant has provided an awesome tool that enables us to monitor, control, and debug our growing fleet of robots without distracting us from building out our own management platform”

Formant is on track to double in size in 2022. This latest investment round will fuel customer acquisition growth and help Formant better serve its growing number of customers and partners.

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