Formant acquires teleoperation startup, Formation

Formant, a leading robot fleet management software company, has acquired Formation, a robot teleoperation startup based in Pittsburgh. Formant will integrate the startup’s solution to enable its customers to remotely control their robots through its browser-based, cloud-enabled robot fleet management system.

According to Formant’s founder and CEO, Jeff Linnell, adding teleoperation to Formant’s offerings will create an end-to-end solution that RaaS (robots as a service) companies can leverage to scale their fleets — enabling them to manage thousands of robots easily.

Formant optimizes the data flow from robots to the cloud, to 3rd party applications and downstreams app, all the way through to its own dashboarding product that enables out-of-the box monitoring, alerting and intervention solution — and, later this year, complete remote control.

“We can be there from day one when a company deploys its first robot, all the way to when it has 100,000 robots,” said Linnell, who was previously the Director of Robotics at X, Google’s ‘Moonshot Factory’. “Many early-stage robotics companies struggle to get past having ten 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."

Formation, founded in 2018 by a small team based out of Pittsburgh, was driven by the growing trend of robotics companies optimizing for semi-autonomy.

“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’s target is the rapidly growing RaaS market which is estimated to grow to $40 billion worldwide in the next three years — it also sees more and more traditional companies approaching robotics as the next step in process automation.

“We’re getting to the point where anybody can buy a robot,” says Linnell, “and traditional companies are starting to see that it’s not whether they should embrace robotics but when. Formant is positioned to help companies stand up and deploy a robot fleet in record time — allowing them to skip building infrastructure and get to market quickly.”

Formation will retain their office in Pittsburgh, PA, giving Formant a presence in both hotbeds of robotics.

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