Formant Inc., which offers cloud-based software for managing robotic fleets, yesterday announced on its blog that it has acquired teleoperation startup Formation. The companies did not specify the value of the transaction.
San Francisco-based Formant, which is legally known as Figure Projects Inc., was founded in 2017. Its founders include former software engineers from Google LLC, Savioke Inc., and Redwood Robotics Inc. It raised $6 million in seed round funding in December 2018.
Formant said it provides “secure and flexible cloud infrastructure” for companies that use automated fleets. The company added that it optimizes data flow from robots via the cloud to third-party and downstream applications, as well as to its browser-based dashboard. This “enables out-of-the-box monitoring, alerting, and intervention,” it stated.
Formation, which was founded last year, will remain in Pittsburgh. Its teleoperation technology is designed to help companies that require the flexibility of semi-autonomous robots.
“What you see in the market is that most service companies rely on human intervention to some extent — especially in unstructured environments,” said James Turnshek, co-founder and CEO of Formation. “They need the ability to control every aspect of their robots remotely in real time in order to make absolutely sure things keep moving and that they’re delivering high quality of service.”
Formant builds ‘end-to-end’ RaaS offering
Adding Formation’s teleoperation capabilities to Formant’s fleet management offerings will create an “end-to-end solution” that Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) providers can use to scale their fleets and easily manage thousands of robots, said Jeff Linnell, founder and CEO of Formant. He was previously the director of robotics at Google X.
“We can be there from Day 1, when a company deploys its first robot, all the way to when it has 100,000 robots,” he said. “Many early-stage robotics companies struggle to get past having 10 engineers for every one robot. Our mission is to flip that ratio by allowing one person to manage many robots. Formation’s teleoperation technology is key to this vision.”