Powering the Robotics Revolution: Our Series A in Foxglove
Oct 11, 2022|
The Eclipse team is pleased to lead Foxglove’s $15M Series A round to accelerate its mission to build the tools and infrastructure developers need to efficiently build autonomy solutions needed by the world today
For the last ten years I have watched the robotics and autonomy space progress at breakneck speed. There has been a collective race to develop and bring to market solutions for a myriad of pain points across a variety of industries with applied robotics. However, as I watched one brilliant company or idea take flight, I also repeatedly observed a frustrating reality — instead of working towards building the product or developing the idea, companies expended too much of their valuable time and resources on building the core tools and infrastructure required to engineer a performative solution. Today, I am excited to announce Eclipse’s partnership with Foxglove to accelerate its mission to build the tools and infrastructure developers need to efficiently build autonomy solutions needed by the world today. We are pleased to lead the company’s $15M Series A round, in partnership with Amplify Partners.
Mark Twain once said, “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” This adage is especially accurate when applied to the historical trajectory of technology. Emerging technology has a development loop with slight variations: something new emerges, it’s inefficient, and its value proposition is not immediately evident. Inevitably, the lag between idea, development, and market launch is prolonged until pain points are addressed, and consumer confidence is earned. Ideas and capabilities are endless, but a foundational set of systems must be in place for these products to materialize and drive customer interest. Ask any engineer: the time spent developing the building blocks to support an idea comes at a significant cost – the race to market. No matter how talented the engineering team is, there is no substitute for readily available tools and infrastructure that allow you to hit the ground running.
For a long time, robotics was deeply seeded in research and academia — in part because the systems robotics technology was built upon were not performative enough to real-world production problems. Robotics was the philosophy degree of the computer science discipline for many years: a lot of theory, but little practical application. However, in the early 2000s, we began to see a divergence from and a change in philosophy toward how robotics technology was developed, manufactured, distributed, and used. The pioneering work that was done by engineering teams within the DARPA Grand Challenges, Willow Garage, and Kiva Systems to name a few, led to a renaissance in how developers and customers alike perceived what was possible to build and deploy in production environments. In particular, the development and implementation of Kiva Systems across specific applications, deployed inside supply chain and high-volume logistics categories, was a poignant embodiment of a powerful commercial entity engaging in NextGen robotics development. So powerful that it caught the attention of Amazon.
The founders of Kiva credit two specific elements that enabled swift progress: the diverse array of talent and experience their team possessed, and importantly, the use of inexpensive off-the-shelf components that allowed them to build their robot and supporting computing system in an agile manner. Amazon’s acquisition of Kiva Systems sent shockwaves across the entire engineering community. The acquisition caused many developers of modern autonomy to realize, “Hey, we can build things that people want, we can build businesses, and maybe there’s some money in this!” Seemingly overnight, companies began popping up to tackle hard problems in the physical world with modern autonomy solutions. Over the last decade, the accelerated interest in developing commercial robotics has also put a harsh spotlight on the glaring need for more performant off-the-shelf components and tools, as well as the need for robust infrastructure to drive more efficient product development.
As the need to build and scale at a faster clip reverberated across the robotic community, two engineering leaders at Cruise, Adrian Macneil and Roman Shtylman, realized that less than half of the company’s engineers were focused on improving actual onboard vehicle software. While the proliferation of AV technology was rapidly expanding, the tools available to the robotics community were disjointed, often missed the mark in their capacity to effectively improve engineering velocity, or were non-existent altogether. They understood that the lack of off-the-shelf tooling was a major bottleneck for the entire robotics industry. Adrian and Roman believed engineers and roboticists should spend their time working on the core mission, not rebuilding common tooling.
Adrian and Roman created Foxglove with a mission to bring robotics development into the modern era by building the data stack and developer tools for modern robotics engineers. By combining open-source robot logging, data lake management, and visualization to streamline common robotics development workflows and increase collaboration, Foxglove is helping companies get robots to market faster. Used by thousands of engineers, product managers, and operations teams, Foxglove is transforming development at top companies across a range of industries.
Once Foxglove’s tool set is implemented, tracking, reporting, and remedying development problems no longer requires months, but minutes. The purpose-built collaborative software allows for full transparency across teams, making diagnostics seamless. Foxglove is a case study in focus and maniacal execution, deeply rooted in the need to help robotics engineers develop, scale, and bring their ideas to market, breaking the vicious engineering loop that has plagued the industry for years. The advancements Foxglove is making across the robotics ecosystem is paving the way to higher levels of performance and capability, and most importantly, providing the opportunity for accelerated robotics advancement. This gives smaller teams the ability to develop progressive solutions that are performative, safe, and cost effective — delighting their customers, including several Eclipse portfolio companies.
In a world awash with macroeconomic issues related to labor shortages and lack of productivity, unlocking performative, safe, and accessible autonomy solutions is mission critical to transforming the physical world industries that make up the fabric of the New Economy.
Congratulations Adrian, Roman, and the entire Foxglove team!
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