Concept: San Francisco’s monitoring and operations software startup Formant has launched a cloud-based robotics platform that enables organizations to operate, observe and analyze their autonomous devices. It allows businesses to control their robots from anywhere in the globe with an internet connection. By offering a data digital video recorder (DVR) that transmits all relevant data from a device in real-time or historically, it can offer customers access to the behavior of individual robots. 

Nature of Disruption: Formant’s cloud-based robotics platform enables enterprises to monitor robot fleets, receive alerts, and conduct root cause analysis when problems are detected. It allows users to access historical and real-time telemetry data, as well as create dashboards for fleet operators and business analysts to track safety, efficiency, and performance. To provide insights and help establish targets, the platform can execute aggregations over fleet data along dimensions such as task location, customer area, and hardware version. The software also allows employees to collaborate on tagging and sharing important instances, as well as collaborate with field operations teams to capture and submit additional data feeds such as video clips. It enables businesses to analyze previous data from their robot fleet to determine the required machine repair frequency. If the number of repairs grows from one quarter to the next, technicians can conduct analyses to pinpoint the source of the problem and remedy it. Additionally, it allows users to examine data on robots from various manufacturers to determine the best one for a specific task. The platform, according to Formant, can handle over 200 robot types, 50,000 live video streams, and five billion data points every month.

Outlook: Even advanced AI-equipped robots in a complex environment like a factory are likely to face unanticipated problems to which they are unable to adapt successfully. With more complicated environments, the possible circumstances for a robot to fail increases. Format’s cloud-based robotics platform aims to help businesses more effectively address operational difficulties associated with their robot fleets. Businesses can utilize the platform to detect when a problem arises and then log into the concerned robot to rectify it. As a result, technicians can gain access to the malfunctioning warehouse robot remotely and reset its settings to correct a software malfunction. In January 2022, Formant has raised $18M in a Series A funding round led by SignalFire with participation from investors including Pelion, Hillsven, and Goodyear Ventures. It intends to expand its present workforce of 20 people, with an emphasis on speeding go-to-market activities.

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