North Texas Innovation Alliance launch Official Tech Program

By QUINCY PRESTON AND LANCE MURRAY, Dallas Innovates | July 12, 2023

In an era where drones and robots are nearly as commonplace as smartphones, we can sometimes overlook the transformative power of their technological advances.

Dallas County’s recent Drone & Robotics Demo Day served as a potent reminder. What was once confined to the realm of science fiction is now today’s reality—and the event was a look at the imminent future.

A handpicked group of ten companies, all pioneers in their field, were there to demonstrate how drones and robots are here to serve us, simplify our lives, and ensure our safety. The event showcased a range of high-tech solutions, from surveillance drones to cleaning robots, that were both practical and, at times, awe-inspiring.

Held at the Dallas County Elections Training and Warehouse facility near Stemmons Freeway and Regal Row, the roster of innovators included Clevon, DroneUp, and RobotLAB—all of whom Dallas Innovates has reported on—as well as AeroDefense drone detection, Axon Air, Serve, BRINC Drones, LandSat Technologies, Evolve Dynamics, and Airspace Link.

But the event was more than just a showcase; it also marked the official launch of Dallas County’s UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) and Robotics Technology Program.

In partnership with the North Texas Innovation Alliance (NTXIA), the initiative represents Dallas County’s ambition to transition into a ‘Smart County.’ But what does that entail?

Dallas County officials explained that its ‘Smart County’ vision is about making the county a national leader in integrating advanced technology into daily operations and public safety. The ultimate goal is to harness the power of technology to enhance efficiency, increase safety, and elevate the quality of public services for residents. 

Dallas County: A place of the future

“The UAS and Robotics Program is the next step for Dallas County reaching its Smart County vision,” NTXIA co-founder and Executive Director Jennifer Sanders said.

NTXIA’s mission is to help municipalities in North Texas discover world-class smart city technologies and the resources they will need to improve the lives of citizens and elevate public safety into the future, she says.

Sanders says the demo day was conceived to bring together stakeholders from the tech world, government, and business to expose exciting new innovations. These folks can help “drive sensible policy” and put technology to use for public good at the forefront of smart region leadership, according to the NTXIA co-founder.

The event highlights cutting-edge tech marvels on the horizon with a focus on its potential to simplify operations in the public sector and improve residents’ lives, she says.

UAS and Robotics Technology Program is a “key item” on the agenda for 2023

NTXIA is a nonprofit regional consortium of more than 40 municipalities, agencies, corporations and academic institutions across North Texas with a mission to build the most connected, smart and resilient region in the country. NTXIA launched Dallas County’s Smart County Blueprint in 2021 to assist local governments in leveraging new solutions to improve outcomes and resource efficiencies, as well as enhancing the quality of life for Dallas County jurisdictions and their residents.

NTXIA said that the UAS and Robotics Technology Program is a key item on the agenda for 2023 to help government stakeholders understand the value and feasibility of scaling and implementing these solutions countywide.

NTXIA’s help has been the key to helping Dallas County shape and execute its vision, according to Jonathon Bazan, assistant county administrator at Dallas County.

“As a county, we want to best serve our residents and enhance their day-to-day lives by leveraging the latest technology solutions, and our drone and robotics program is just the beginning,” Bazan said.

The Smart County Blueprint can create a “cohesive experience for residents with access to similar technologies as they cross city lines within Dallas County, according to the Dallas County administrator. It will also make government leaders aware of the technologies available, which is the first step toward long-term implementation.

The demonstration day came after Dallas County put out a call for innovation for groundbreaking solutions in the space. The 10 demonstrating companies were selected from 90 interested vendor responses, Bazan said.

Other county stakeholders, including the Sheriff’s Department, Buildings Department, Fire Marshal’s Office, and more, were on hand to evaluate the demonstrations.

Dallas County Fire Marshal Robert De Los Santos said his agency is excited to see Dallas County embrace groundbreaking technologies in the drone and robotics spaces.

“As a servant of the community, our goal is to protect our county best, and this demo day will allow key county leaders to be exposed to proven and tested solutions that can serve for practical use cases today, and future solutions that will allow our county to continue to progress with the latest technologies,” De Los Santos said in a statement. “These solutions will be able to assist us in our duties of surveillance, public safety, and more. It’s truly exciting to be part of a county that is focused on preparing for the future for the benefit of its citizens.”

De Los Santos is looking at advanced technology for county inspections, search and rescue, and more. “And if law enforcement needs it, they’ll be available for that,” he said.

Solving procurement pain points

Seeing tech potential is one thing. Getting it approved and implemented is another.— a Chicago-based online platform that helps local governments find, assess, and purchase new technology more efficiently—co-hosted the demo day event and helped orchestrate the call for innovation. The company’s digital platform is designed to streamline a traditionally complex process, so city officials can access innovative tech solutions faster.

The company says its Clearbox Process helps guide officials through sourcing and validation, aiming to “match” a city government and tech vendor, with no extra costs to the government. Born from a partnership with New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation, has since supported over 200 governments worldwide, according to its website.

Meet the companies

The ten pioneering companies provided insights into the real-world applications of their technology including public safety, parking lot surveillance, live video streaming, and illegal dumping detection. Other vendors demonstrated how they reshape mundane tasks. The applications stretched from routine activities such as inventory management and intra-office delivery to commercial operations like cleaning and wayfinding. Some offered remote capabilities for inspecting fleet vehicles or buildings.


Estonian tech startup Clevon, which expanded to the  AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) in Fort Worth last year, is pioneering the use of last-mile delivery robots to revolutionize the transportation of goods. Designed for neighborhoods, industrial areas, and anywhere a package or parcel needs to be moved from “point A to point B,” their autonomous robots provide an innovative solution to traditional delivery methods, says Meelis Anton, Clevon’s U.S. chief operating officer. The company’s flagship delivery robots, which are fully driverless and electric, currently boast speeds of up to 20 mph on the roadway.

Currently operating in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the city of Northlake, Clevon’s robots are extending their delivery capabilities to groceries and restaurant orders. Customers order from a partner company, and Clevon’s robots pick up the items for delivery.

A unique aspect of Clevon’s service is its secure delivery process. The COO said each customer receives a dedicated text code for their delivery, ensuring that the right person receives the package and it’s not touched by anyone else in transit.

Serve Robotics

Serve Robotics is making significant strides in its mission to make its autonomous delivery robots a reality in everyday urban life.

After a successful first year in Los Angeles, the tech delivery company, plans to expand to Dallas in the coming year, according to the company’s Head of Public Policy Vignesh Ganapathy. The sidewalk robots, designed to integrate seamlessly into urban communities, have already completed 20,000 deliveries in LA., he said. The company said it strategically selected Los Angeles, a “really, really difficult location” in terms of infrastructure, for their initial deployment. That translates to operational confidence as the company expands.

Different regions have different policy and legal regulatory regimes in which we operate, Ganapathy says. In some places, permitting takes a long time. “Texas has been quite a bit more friendly,” he said. “We can technically deploy tomorrow if we wanted to.”

In anticipation of a significant increase in operations, Serve has a plan to deploy 2,000 more AI-powered robots in new markets on the Uber Eats platform. The company’s robots employ LIDAR, ultrasonics, and computer vision to navigate, along with an anti-collision system for safety. “It’s not necessarily the state of the art to just use computer vision. We use all three because we want to be able to verify that what we think is happening is actually happening. … if we think something’s a dog and we’ll be able to verify the dog,” Ganapathy said.

Beyond food delivery, Serve is considering partnerships in areas such as parcel delivery and service on tech campuses. In the public interest, Serve also maintains a commitment to cooperate with cities, sharing valuable data to enhance infrastructure and promote pedestrian safety, according to Ganapathy.

Founded in 2017 as the robotics arm of Postmates, Serve was conceived as a robot-based delivery service that not only thrills customers but also enhances dependability for merchants, all while reducing vehicular emissions to zero. Tens of thousands of contactless deliveries in Los Angeles and San Francisco stand as a testament to the success of the company’s autonomous robots, he said. Spun out in February 2021, Serve is backed by industry-leading investors such as Uber and Nvidia.


Airspace Link detects, track, and locate drones. The system can integrate with other detection and security systems, providing information about all the drones in an area.

Airspace Link addresses challenges posed by drone misuse and helps secure airspace with its tech to alert stakeholders when a drone enters a protected space. Alerts are sent via text, email, or audio-visual alert on a command console

The company call those challenges the “three C’s” of drone pilots: the clueless, the careless, and the criminal. The company says that clueless drone pilots—often inexperienced enthusiasts—may unknowingly risk public safety by flying in restricted areas or causing RF interference. Careless pilots, on the other hand, may prioritize capturing impressive shots over ensuring public safety and may inadvertently breach sensitive areas, potentially leading to accidental intellectual property theft by filming an area that has sensitive information and posting it YouTube, for example. Then there’s the criminal that can include intentional intellectual property theft and breaches caused by unauthorized drone activities. They also highlight the concerning practice of placing rogue access points, cleverly named to deceive unsuspecting victims, such as the example of naming a drone “HP printer.” These tactics can create a cyber vector into corporate networks, raising data security and privacy concerns.

And, the company says, the war in Ukraine has “really raised global awareness as to the cost effectiveness and affordability of weaponizing drones.”

To combat these issues, Airspace Link has developed innovative technologies backed by patented solutions. With a deep understanding of the risks associated with drones, the company says it’s written “every single line of code that’s in there” to ensure safety, security, and compliance.

The identification of drone operators is a crucial part of maintaining control and safety in shared airspace, according to Airspace Link. That’s especially important in crowded or sensitive areas where drone activity could pose a risk to safety, privacy, or security.

To ensure that drone operators can be identified, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has mandated that drones broadcast their location and other information, such as their flight path and altitude. This information can be used to track and identify drones and their operators in real-time.

Airspace Link’s technology leverages these requirements to track and locate drones effectively. In a demonstration, for instance, they showed how their system places icons on a map to represent the location of drones and their controllers, providing real-time tracking and monitoring. The detailed information available can assist in identifying the drone operators if necessary.

It’s important to note that personal information about drone operators is not publicly available. A warrant would be required when the operator’s identity needs to be revealed for legal or security reasons, the company says.

As of December 2022, the FAA requires newly manufactured drones from half a pound to 55 pounds to broadcast their location information, the company says. Upgrades may be necessary for some older drone models to comply with the new regulations.

Airspace Link also has hardware solutions to monitor physical areas around critical infrastructures, such as correctional facilities, stadiums, or military deployments. Those devices can detect drones operating within a range of one to two kilometers, and up to eight kilometers in open areas, the company says.

Airspace Link aims to build a system that is self-funding, where they could sell services to industry, citizens, and some government units, allowing state and local law enforcement to access the service at no charge. The company is already deployed at 20 correctional facilities in three states and several stadiums.

With its latest advanced technology, the company is capable of detecting a wide range of drones, including those broadcasting remote ID, terrestrial drones, and even Wi-Fi drones functioning as access points. It’s a comprehensive system ensures effective detection and monitoring of UAVs in both aerial and ground environments, the company said.

The system integrates with Google Maps to provide a clear view of monitored areas, and it offers an offline version for tactical usage. The user interface is designed to be simple and intuitive, with features to detect the pilot and controller of a drone, a crucial element for maintaining security and compliance with drone regulations.

Airspace Link

Airspace Link aims to safely integrate drones into the National Airspace System and communities across the U.S., the company said at the event. With a strong public-private partnership with cities like Arlington, Ontario, Las Vegas, and the state of Michigan, Airspace Link is actively involved in building the digital infrastructure required to support compliant and secure drone operations.

By offering tools, resources, and expertise, the company aims to help departments within counties, cities, and states align their UAS programs and foster collaboration. Through its UAS readiness assessment, Airspace Link facilitates interdepartmental cooperation and knowledge sharing, enabling the effective use of drones across various sectors. As drones continue to play a more significant role, Airspace Link remains committed to supporting the growth and development of drone programs while ensuring public safety.


Brinc, a pioneering drone company based in Seattle, is reshaping the landscape of law enforcement operations with its cutting-edge drone technology. The company’s flagship product, the Lemur drone, is specifically designed for indoor tactical operations, providing law enforcement agencies with a powerful tool to enhance situational awareness and improve response times.

Mark Lang, a retired police officer from the Dallas Police Department, has witnessed the transformative impact of Brinc’s drones firsthand. “We’re getting a lot of customers telling us that when the drone flies in, you get the voluntary surrender, which is great,” he said.

With 30 years of experience, including 23 years on the SWAT team, Lang said he recognized the potential of drones in revolutionizing law enforcement operations and the capabilities of Brinc’s Lemur drone. Lang, whose extensive background in crisis incidents and SWAT deployments led him to collaborate with Brinc and facilitate drone demonstrations for North Texas agencies.

The tragedy of the “one October” shooting that occurred in Las Vegas in 2017 was the catalyst for Brinc’s mission, Lang said. During the incident, a shooter positioned at the Mandalay Bay hotel opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers, resulting in the loss of 60 lives and numerous injuries. The event deeply affected Brinc founder Blake Resnick, who was a teenager at the time. The 17-year-old Resnick decided to develop a technology that could provide “eyes and ears” for SWAT teams and law enforcement agencies to keep first responders out of harm’s way.

Following the incident, Resnick established Brinc as a startup company to develop innovative drones for public safety purposes. Lang says the company initially focused on providing the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department with a drone that could assist their SWAT team in various operations. After a successful demonstration, Las Vegas became Brinc’s first customer, leading to further adoption by over 400 agencies across the United States.

Lang says Brinc’s mission today is to enhance situational awareness, keep first responders out of harm’s way, and improve response efforts in crisis situations.

The drone’s deployment during SWAT operations significantly expedits critical tasks, such as room clearing, providing valuable information to law enforcement personnel, Lang says. By leveraging the drone’s advanced features, including high-definition video feeds and thermal imaging capabilities, law enforcement teams gained unprecedented access to vital real-time data.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Brinc’s drone technology is its ability to influence suspect behavior. The the mere presence of the drone often resulted in voluntary surrenders, minimizing the need for potentially dangerous confrontations.

“When you’re sending drones into locations, people that are in there, whether they’re in crisis or they’ve committed a crime, they’re just surrendering,” he said. “It’s not mainstream to have tech like this fly in. I don’t care who you are, what part of the country. It’s still not mainstream.”

The drone’s ability to gather critical information and provide enhanced situational awareness empowered law enforcement officers to make better-informed decisions, ensuring a safer and more effective approach to resolving crisis incidents.

Brinc’s commitment to innovation and continuous improvement is evident in the development of the Lemur drone. As the drone industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, Brinc remains at the forefront, actively incorporating customer feedback and advancing its technology. With the Lemur drone being the company’s second iteration, Brinc is dedicated to refining and expanding its product lineup to meet the evolving needs of public safety agencies.

Beyond SWAT operations, Brinc’s drones have found applications in various public safety sectors. From urban search and rescue missions to fire and hazmat incidents, the versatility of Brinc’s drones makes them an invaluable asset for first responders, he said. By using cellular connectivity and proprietary web-based streaming platforms, law enforcement agencies and crisis negotiators can seamlessly access live drone feeds, facilitating real-time collaboration and decision-making.

Brinc’s success extends beyond the United States, with the company donating drones and providing training to international agencies during times of crisis, according to Lang. The drones have proven invaluable in disaster recovery efforts, including earthquake response and urban search and rescue operations.

With plans for future iterations, including an outdoor drone platform and integration with the first responder community, Brinc continues to push the boundaries of drone technology in public safety.

“We’re constantly amazed at how fast things are moving in the drone industry. We want to be leading the forefront when it comes to drones for public safety,” Lang said.


RobotLab sees a future where technology and human interaction harmoniously coexist. In a world more and more driven by advanced technology, Southlake-based RobotLab has emerged as one of the largest robot integrators in the country, partnering with numerous companies to provide cutting-edge robotic solutions tailored to business needs of all types. With a range of robots, RobotLab is revolutionizing customer service, serving capabilities, cleaning operations, and educational initiatives.

The company’s customer service robots are designed to connect with customers, educate them, and guide them in real time, the company says. Its interactive robots, such as the popular Pepper in LG clothing guidelines, inform customers about various services, provide directions, showcase menus, and even promote rewards programs or upcoming events.

For serving purposes, RobotLab offers a range of robots specialized in serving food and drinks, as well as delivering equipment efficiently within a mapped-out facility. Robots can navigate designated routes, drop off food and beverages, and even collect dirty dishes or trash on their return journey, the company says.

RobotLAB presentation at the Dallas County Drone & Robotics Demo Day. [Photo: NTXIA]

In the realm of cleaning operations, RobotLab’s cleaning robots are equipped with diverse features to suit different needs. One such robot, is capable of mopping, scrubbing, and vacuuming. “We can customize its operation based on a facility’s needs,” a spokesperson said. The robots use mapping systems and incorporate features like squeegees to dry surfaces effectively, to help ensure that no hazardous or wet spots are left behind.

Education is another crucial aspect of RobotLab’s endeavors. The company’s commitment to tech education is evident in the Now Robot, designed specifically for students. the robot serves as a hands-on learning tool, allowing students to assemble it from scratch and develop their own operating systems. RobotLab collaborates with educational institutions, trade schools, and summer programs to foster technological growth and inspire future innovators.

RobotLab offers comprehensive services, including sales, implementation, maintenance, and expert guidance. “We provide a white glove service, assisting our customers throughout the entire process, ensuring the right robot is chosen and customized to meet their specific requirements,” the company said.

RobotLab says its expertise extends to government entities, where they navigate procurement processes, provide security solutions, and understand the complexities of government funding.

With commercial-grade robots designed for convention centers, jail cells, and large office spaces, RobotLab continues to expand its capabilities. The company remains open to exploring new avenues: “We’re always on the lookout for emerging trends and possibilitie,” the spokesperson said, hinting at a possible trashing-picking robot in future.

But if you need something special right now, the company says, it’s ready to help. “We are robot agnostic, meaning we work with different manufacturers to find the right solutions for our customers. We can help connect the dots and find the right robot for your specific needs.”

Axon Air

Axon Air, a division of Axon, best known for its pioneering work in law enforcement technology, is an end-to-end drone solution provider for law enforcement, first responders, and various public safety entities. Originally known for its Taser products and body-worn cameras, Axon ventured into the world of drones in 2018 with a “clunky application” that was a good video feed with live stream. Fast forward to 2023, the company says: With partner Drum Fence, Axon Air has undergone significant advancements and now offers a comprehensive drone ecosystem integrated with and real-time intelligence capabilities. That makes it the “end-to-end premiere drone solution for law enforcement first responders—and pretty much entity that utilizes a drone.”

The primary focus of Axon Air is to address the critical challenges faced by law enforcement in obtaining real-time intelligence and streamlining administrative tasks related to drone management. Recognizing the need for swift decision-making and situational awareness, especially in larger metropolitan areas, Axon Air has established a strong partnership with the Dallas Police Department, renowned for its robust drone team and open-door policy for collaboration and training.

“Our goal is to provide law enforcement and first responders with real-time intelligence and simplify drone management,” said a representative from Axon Air. With their hardware-agnostic approach, they support popular drone brands such as DGI, Alltel, Parrot, and Skydio, letting customers choose the drone that suits their needs. Its user-friendly application enables instant takeoff, live streaming, notification of key command individuals, 3D mapping, accident reconstructions, and automatic record-keeping, the company said.

Evolve SkyMantis

U.K.-based Evolve Dynamics develops extreme weather, persistent UAS that cater to various industries and customer demands.

The company, which says it prides itself on converting customer needs into bespoke mission-specific systems, can address challenges faced in congested or hostile environments.

One of Evolve’s flagship systems is the Sky Mantis, a versatile UAS capable of flying in all weather conditions. With a flight time of about an hour on battery power or up to two days when tethered, the Sky Mantis can be fitted with multiple payloads. This makes it suitable for applications in defense, police and security services, search and rescue operations, as well as the oil and gas industry.

During the Dallas demonstration, Evolve Dynamics showcased the capabilities of the Sky Mantis. The drone can withstand winds of up to 46 miles per hour, and the team performed tests by dropping the system and then continuing the flight after battery replacement. 

The company says it aims to expand sales in the United States. In the past three years, it’s participated in three shows across the country, including locations such as El Paso and Virginia. The Sky Mantis’s features, such as its all-weather capabilities, one-hour flight time, and IP 65-rated payload, are key features, along with its lightweight design.

The Sky Mantis comes with a comprehensive package, including the drone, a controller, a Windows tablet for payload management, and two batteries. Additionally, a tether weighing 50 pounds supplies power and information to the drone, eliminating the need for any stored data on the tether itself. The setup allows for radio-silent operations for undetectability.

Landsat Technologies

Landsat Technologies, a startup with a cutting-edge security system has applications for public safety, entertainment, and surveillance operations. The company’s advanced security system employs 283 film cameras that offer a full 360-degree field of view, delivering comprehensive situational awareness, according to the founders. 

A key feature of Landsat’s innovation is a target camera that can actively track and frame humans, which significantly enhances its utility for public safety and security applications.

The camera system is also integrated with motion-sensor lights that activate when a person approaches—a feature that Landsat Technologies says can act as a deterrent to potential criminal activity. The system is powered by a solar panel and battery combination, ensuring sustainable and autonomous operation. Additionally, the device relies on LTE for connectivity, making it adaptable for virtually any location and requiring minimal human intervention once installed.

“We initially built it for streaming SpaceX launches on our YouTube channel,” the founders from Landsat Technologies explained. “But we soon realized we ended up building something that could be really useful to a lot of different people.”

According to the representative, the company currently rents out the systems for $500 a month, but outright purchase is also an option, depending on the needs of the client.

The founders believe that the motion-sensor lights and the potential to capture criminals on camera could serve as a significant deterrent for a range of purposes from illegal dumping to using the system at construction site or in areas where persistent crime is a problem.


The sound of buzzing drones may become a an even more familiar sound in the Dallas area as Walmart continues to expands its drone delivery partnership with Virginia-based company, DroneUp. As part of Walmart’s initiative to bring drone delivery to 4 million U.S. households in six states last year, DroneUp introduced drone delivery services in 11 Dallas-area Walmart stores.

These locations include Dallas, Richardson, Plano, Garland, Mesquite, Murphy, Rowlett, and The Colony. Walmart had previously announced plans for this expansion to Texas, along with Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Utah, and Virginia.

Walmart, which invested in DroneUp last June, has already executed thousands of same-day drone deliveries, delivering packages to customers’ safest outdoor locations at their homes. The delivery system is operated by a team of certified pilots working within Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines.

To avail of the service, customers living within a mile of the participating Walmart stores can place orders between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. via the DroneUp website. The drone service offers delivery of over 10,000 eligible Walmart items weighing up to 10 pounds. The service includes even fragile items like eggs and promises deliveries within as little as 30 minutes. The delivery fee is $3.99 with no minimum order value, with the fee waived for first-time users using a promo code.

DroneUp picks and packages and loads the items into a drone at each location. The drone doesn’t land in the customer’s yard but hovers above it and lowers the package via a cable to the ground.

The company sees its mission as setting thestandard for drone delivery and to bring drone benefits to local communities, organizations, and businesses. Its safety practices, state-of-the-art technology, and strong relationship with the FAA have been critical to their success in developing infrastructure for growth and career programs for operators, the company previously said.