Accelerating the robotics revolution
by Adrian MacNeil
I’m happy to announce our $15M Series A funding led by Eclipse Ventures. It’s an exciting time for Foxglove – thousands of robotics engineers use our software, and our user base has grown by over 8x in the past 12 months alone! But before we jump into details, I want to spend a minute reflecting on our mission and why it is so important.
Robots are the future
The early 2020s have been defined by supply chain difficulties, labor shortages, an aging workforce, geopolitical instability, climate change, rising interest rates, and high inflation. What do all of these things have in common? Global demand is outpacing production, causing supply shortages and inflation.
Unfortunately, while the brightest minds of our generation have been busy optimizing the world of bits, investment in the world of atoms has not kept pace. Most so-called increases in productivity have come from shipping jobs to lower-cost-of-living countries. However, as living standards in those countries have increased, and geopolitical tensions have caused countries to re-evaluate the resilience of their supply chains, the world is finally starting to ask the question: Why haven’t we invested more in our physical economy?
Robotics will have an enormous positive impact on the world economy and our society over the coming decade. The availability of cheap specialized compute (such as GPUs and TPUs), increases in the power density of batteries, and advances in ML and AI research mean that many robotics applications previously confined to a lab are now commercially viable. As a result, the next generation of intelligent, collaborative robots will bring about a new era of productivity and transform every industry—from manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, and transportation, to the frontiers of space and undersea exploration.
But robotics development is broken
Robotics today is like web development in the 90s. Every company is forced to spend years building everything in-house–such as developer tools, data pipelines, fleet management, and simulation, not to mention time spent fighting with outdated frameworks, libraries, drivers, and build tools. As a result, robotics development teams are forced to choose between using clunky, outdated software or reinventing the wheel and building everything in-house.
Before founding Foxglove, I spent years leading infrastructure & developer productivity at Cruise. While there, I was struck by the fact that less than half of our engineers were focused on improving actual onboard vehicle software. The rest worked on everything from CI/CD pipelines, fleet management, and data infrastructure to ML platforms, simulation, and QA. When speaking with colleagues at other autonomous vehicle and robotics companies, it became clear that everyone faced the same challenges, and most companies were building a nearly identical infrastructure stack.
This lack of off-the-shelf tooling is a major bottleneck for the entire robotics industry. Engineers and roboticists should spend their time working on the core mission, not rebuilding common tooling, and existing software has not kept pace. It’s time to bring robotics development into the modern era.
Foxglove’s data stack brings robots to market faster
Robotics data is fundamentally different from traditional unstructured or structured time-series data. Robots must process and store many parallel streams of data, and a single robot may host multiple cameras, lidar, IMU, and other sensors, while simultaneously monitoring perception, planning, and control output. In addition, this all must run in compute- and bandwidth-constrained environments such as a warehouse or farm.
To develop and debug robot behavior, engineers need the ability to inspect three-dimensional robot state, pause and replay recorded data, and step frame-by-frame through the complex output of ML models and algorithms. We’ve found this workflow to be remarkably similar across robotics applications and companies.
When scaling robotics development beyond a few engineers, it becomes critical to optimize this lifecycle of robotics data, from logging to ingestion, discovery, and analysis, to unblock engineering teams and maximize the pace of development. Unfortunately, immature companies often find themselves with a disorganized “data swamp” and no visibility into what they have stored or who has access to it.
Foxglove is building the data stack for robotics. Our platform combines open-source robot logging, data lake management, and visualization to streamline common robotics development workflows, increase collaboration, and ultimately help companies get robots to market faster. Our products are used by thousands of engineers, product managers, and operations teams, and we’re transforming development at some of the top companies across a range of industries, from autonomous vehicles (NVIDIA), logistics (6 River Systems), and autonomous forklifts (Third Wave Automation), to lawn mowing, sidewalk delivery, undersea exploration, fulfillment, and defense.
We’re just getting started
We’re excited to announce our $15M Series A funding, led by Seth Winterroth on behalf of Eclipse Ventures. While getting to know Seth over the past year, I was struck by his broad knowledge of the robotics industry, and deep appreciation for the challenges his portfolio companies faced around data and debugging. Eclipse joins our existing investors Amplify Partners, and our network of incredible angels, including Kyle Vogt & Daniel Kan (Cruise), Pieter Abbeel (UC Berkeley), Randall Kent (Cypress.io), Samy Al Bahra (Sauce Labs), Jesse Endahl (Fleetsmith), and many more.
We’ll put these funds to work in continuing to improve our platform and delight our customers. We’ve already been busy expanding our product and go-to-market teams, and we have big plans ahead of us!
We’re a small yet highly effective team of builders and operators. Our journey is just beginning, so if you’re interested in joining our mission, we are currently hiring across engineering, growth, sales, and more (plus, we’re a fully-remote company!).
If you’re interested in how Foxglove can untangle your robotics data and streamline your development, please book a demo with our sales team!