Getting Started

Everything you need to know to get started with Formant.

    What is Formant?

    Formant is a data and operations platform with three functional pillars: observe, operate, and analyze. Each unlocks a powerful set of capabilities for operating and understanding your autonomous service.

    Nearly all platform capabilities begin with the Formant Agent—a lightweight application that is installed and provisioned on every device. The Formant agent intelligently and securely ingests data for observability and analysis, and can allow operators to establish real-time teleop sessions with the device. Device configurations can be managed centrally and can be reliably rolled out to specified devices or groups of devices.

    Observability

    At the core of the Formant platform is the capability for a user to monitor every aspect of the real-time and historical health and behavior of an autonomous system and to be alerted when situations arise that demand attention.

    Support staff benefit from an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of their system, allowing for enhanced root-cause analysis and proactive issue resolution when problems arise in the field—especially during trials or early-stage deployments in novel environments. Meanwhile, product teams gain an intimate understanding of the real-world interactions their system has with its environment. Most importantly, every team member throughout the organization can share a holistic, unified perspective of what’s happening in the field.

    Collected telemetry data is buffered at the edge and streamed from the fleet intelligently, based upon bandwidth availability. During ingestion, any telemetry stream can be used to trigger configurable notifications and actions in Formant or pushed to another application. Users can then jump to any point in time and play back visualizations of recorded scenarios, annotate them, and share them with team members. Dashboard layouts can be defined by device type or for sets of arbitrary streams and filters.

    Remote Operation

    We aim to make it easy for operators to control any aspect of a system that can be used to guarantee success in a chaotic environment—from a single motor, to a map-based navigation system, to a high-level, task-specific autonomous mode.

    Reliable teleoperation allows devices to be deployed into the field as soon as they’re safe and operable. Full autonomy across all contexts needn't be a requirement before entering production.

    To achieve the absolute minimum amount of latency during teleoperation sessions, a peer-to-peer, real-time connection is established directly from an authorized operator’s interface to a robot, allowing for rich media and operator control inputs. Teleoperation interfaces are designed to interact with all common autonomous robot capabilities.

    Operators can use our durable message queue to issue commands to connected devices. Commands are received either immediately, or as soon as the device is online and internet-connected.

    When enabled, operators can SSH directly into a robot by name from their local machine, or open a terminal for the device in the web application.

     For advanced users, devices can forward ports from a device to their local machine without using a VPN. This is commonly used to interface with open-source visualization workflows or debugging tools remotely.

    Data Analysis

    Data collected by sensors in the field can contain impactful insights for both the operation of deployed equipment and the environment in which it is operating. Formant Analytics puts this data to use by allowing team members to pose high-level questions and receive pointed answers.

    Every company operating autonomous systems has a dual purpose in the collection and analysis of data. The first is the evaluation and improvement of their performance. The second is to build additional data services to offer to their customers or third parties. The platform’s data pipeline has been designed to make it as easy as possible to accomplish both of these goals.

    Any data streamed to the Formant platform can be run through an enhancement pipeline to be used as part of a real-time analytics query for historical aggregations or be passed along to another system through one of our integrations. Branded reports can be delivered via email at regular intervals to both internal and external stakeholders to demonstrate ROI and other system performance factors.

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