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North Texas Innovation Zone Aims to Drive AV, Delivery Tech

The AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone in Fort Worth is becoming a center for developing next-gen transportation technologies. It’s situated near an interstate, rail lines and an air cargo hub.

An aerial view of Fort Worth shows vehicles on a bridge into the city, office towers in the background.
Leaders are developing a mobility innovation district in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro region to take full advantage of its strategic location in fostering next-generation technologies related to autonomy, deliveries and aviation.

The Mobility Innovation Zone in AllianceTexas, is situated near a busy air cargo hub, rail lines, and Interstate 35, enabling it to grow industries around autonomous trucking and air taxis, as well as stimulate new approaches in package delivery.

AllianceTexas is a 27,000-acre master-planned community on the north side of Fort Worth. Its mobility innovation initiative began in 2020 through a partnership with Fort Worth, which has made mobility a target industry in its strategic plan.

“It’s really an opportunity to kind of layer in what we had already been focused on, and see how we can advance that effort from the standpoint of not just attracting large-scale companies, but really building up companies here that have some really creative technology,” said Robert Sturns, director of economic development for the city of Fort Worth.

Officials are already recruiting companies to further develop their technologies in the innovation zone. In Hillwood Communities, one of AllianceTexas’ master-planned developments, last-mile autonomous robot-like deliveries are underway, as are drone deliveries in partnership with Manna Drone Delivery, an Irish company.

The challenge is not just infusing neighborhoods with technology, said Ian Kinne, director of Logistics Innovation at Hillwood, which manages the innovation zone, but ensuring it drives amenities that can elevate the quality of life.

“It doesn’t make sense for a 2 ton vehicle to deliver a 2 pound package,” he said, echoing a common refrain among package delivery innovators who focus on more sensibly matching the package to its delivery vehicle.

Facilities like Perot Field Fort Worth Alliance Airport, roughly 2 miles south, function as a hub for the development of drone technologies as well as electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

“I think we see some real opportunity there,” said Sturns, who noted Wing, a drone delivery company, has done testing in the area. Wing recently signed a deal with Walmart to deliver purchases in the area that weigh up to 3 pounds.

“I think it’s definitely an area where as technology continues to advance, people start to see some scalability on some of these models moving forward,” Sturns added.

AllianceTexas has also been partnering with firms developing hydrogen fuel cell technologies and with autonomous vehicle companies like to establish the region as a developer of automated trucking technology.

Its architects see the innovation zone as a place to develop the kinds of traffic management technologies modern cities will need, as planners shape streets to serve more types of users in a wider variety of vehicles.

Fort Worth is looking at the opportunities for transportation innovation internally “from the context of transportation management, obviously,” said Sturns. “But from a pure economic development standpoint, being able to point to these innovative technologies being developed here, and growing here, that just continues to put Fort Worth on the map in the way that we just haven’t seen.”
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.