UP.Summit Recap: The Future of Mobility, from Flying Cars to ‘Ziplined’ Sandwiches to Aerial Wildland Firefighting

The three-day, invitation-only 2023 UP.Summit wrapped up today at the Perot family's Circle T Ranch in Westlake. Here are some of the flying cars, autonomous dump trucks, drone-show drones, and "neighborhood electric vehicles" showcased at the summit—which was attended by global CEOs, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and VCs seeking to get in on the ground floor of the future of mobility.

The 2023 UP.Summit—an annual invitation-only event that attracts “CEOs of some of the world’s biggest companies, founders of the most inspiring start-ups, and capital allocators representing more than $1 trillion of assets under management”—wrapped up today at the Perot family’s Circle T Ranch in Westlake.

The three-day event offered a coveted window into the future of transportation and mobility—with up-close looks and demos of everything from next-gen drones to flying cars to autonomous construction machines and more.

One day, these futuristic machines may be common sights in Dallas-Fort Worth skies, streets, sidewalks, and construction sites. But to get there, they’ll need some heavy investment—and a big part of the summit was attracting investors to fuel many high-tech startup missions.

Founded in 2017, the summit is jointly organized by Santa Monica, California-based UP.Partners, a mobility focused investment firm; Bentonville, Arkansas-based Tom and Steuart Walton; and Ross Perot Jr., chairman of Dallas-based Hillwood and The Perot Group. Last year’s summit was held in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Headlines from Wednesday and Thursday at the summit

The first two days of the summit generated plenty of headlines, according to San Diego-based Hank Skorny, an UP.Partners advisor and investor. In a LinkedIn post, Skorny tracked some of the biggest news, with additional notes added by Dallas Innovates:

Teleo announced at the UP.Summit event that Florida-based Tomahawk Construction will become the first customer to deploy its autonomous capabilities on an active job site. (PRNewsfoto/Teleo)

Wednesday at the UP.Summit, Palo Alto, California-based Teleo announced that Florida’s Tomahawk Construction will become the first customer to deploy its autonomous capabilities for heavy construction equipment on an active job site. Tomahawk Construction’s articulated dump trucks will be able to use autonomous functions to move material to build a residential community in Naples, Florida, starting in December, Teleo said. Teleo also announced deals with eight new construction customers, and said it’s received orders for 42 machines.

Alaska Airlines announced that it’s joining forces with UP.Labs to launch an Airline Venture Lab.

Porsche AG and UP.Labs announced at the UP.Summit that they’re launching Sensigo, an AI-powered automotive data startup. [Photo: Porsche]

Porsche AG and UP.Labs announced the launch of Sensigo, an AI-powered automotive data startup that aims to make car repairs faster and more affordable. “Sensigo addresses a real-world challenge in which cars are heavily software-driven, yet software engineers aren’t integrated into the service center team,” Rakesh Hegde, CEO of Sensigo, said in a statement. “This results in lost time and money for customers, service centers, and OEMs. We built Sensigo to transform the technician experience by empowering them with AI-based workflows and smart diagnostic tools to help address repairs and service more efficiently all while significantly enhancing the customer experience.”

Wing showcased new drone delivery technology and offered details on its retail integration strategy with Walmart. In August, Dallas Innovates wrote about Walmart adding drone delivery service in Dallas-Fort Worth by adding services to two superstores via Wing, Alphabet’s drone delivery sister company. Last December, we wrote about Wing opening a kind of drone air traffic control center in Coppell, a suburb north of DFW Airport.

Jetson announced raising $15 million at UP.Summit 2023. Shown are Jetson advisor Peter H. Diamandis, Jetson co-founder and CTO Tomasz Patan, investor will.i.am, and board advisor Rikard Steiber after closing the Jetson investment. [Photo: Jetson Inc.]

Minnesota-based Jetson Inc. announced at the UP.Summit that it has closed a $15 million seed round to help launch its flying car Jetson ONE (seen at the top of this article). The round was supported by Tech Entrepreneur, Futurist and Transportation Consultant will.i.am and Global Angel Investors, Jetson said. “I’m proud to be a part of the Jetson family and support the company’s mission to democratize flight, opening the skies to all,” will.i.am said in a statement. “Personal aircraft ideal for short point-to-point flights will soon be a reality.” Jetson CEO Stephan D’haene says Jetson’s mission “is to democratize flight and make the skies available to everyone.”

Reliable Robotics Corporation announced that it had achieved key milestones in its large aircraft automation study for the U.S. Air Force.

CesiumAstro, SES Satellites, and Hughes teamed up to demonstrate “a scalable in-flight connectivity terminal for comms on-the-move.”

Verge Aero X7 drone [Photo: Verge Aero]

Philadelphia’s Verge Aero, a leading drone show technology solution, launched its Aero X7 drone, above, which it says is “built to remove barriers to entry into the aerial entertainment industry.” Verge Aero says its integrated systems make drone technology more accessible “by streamlining the experience at price points designed to fuel the market.”

Elroy Air announced that the demand backlog for its Chaparral aircraft exceeded 1,000 vehicles in 2023.

An “optionally piloted” Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter with the Matrix autonomy system. No humans on board. [Photo: Sikorsky]

Rain and Sikorsky offered updates on their collaborative effort to advance rapid response capabilities for aerial wildland firefighting. The companies are exploring how Sikorsky’s MATRIX autonomy suite operating with Rain’s Wildfire Mission Autonomy System can launch uncrewed helicopters to drop water on wildfires within minutes of detection. “Combining Sikorsky’s demonstrated mature vehicle autonomy system with Rain’s early response capability will show how an uncrewed Black Hawk or Firehawk helicopter can quickly take off, fly to a suspected ignition, and drop water to suppress a wildfire in its incipient stage with no human onboard,” Rain CEO Maxwell Brodie said in a statement.

Mendocino Farms said it will use Zipline’s home delivery service to bring sandwiches, salads, and more to customers in select locations, starting in 2025.

REGENT Seaglider [Photo: REGENT]

Rhode Island-based REGENT announced completing a $60M Series A fundraising round, bringing the company’s total funding to date to $90 million. Co-led by 8090 Industries and Founders Fund, the raise was joined by Dallas’ Mark Cuban, among others. REGENT is developing all-electric “Seagliders,”  a new mode of transportation that enables fast, affordable, zero-emission travel along coastal routes. Seagliders “operate like a boat at docks and in harbors, take off from wave-tolerant hydrofoils, and fly within one wingspan of the surface over open water,” the company says.

Pivotal’s $190K Helix personal eVTOL [Photo: Pivotal]

Opener announced that it’s rebranding under the new name Pivotal during the UP.Summit, and also announced Helix— its first “scalable” production aircraft. Known for the BlackFly, the first eVTOL of its kind to be sold and delivered to customers, Pivotal said the Helix is aimed at individuals “who want to take to the sky for recreation and short-hop travel.” The base price for a Helix aircraft will be $190,000, Pivotal said—less than some supercars Dallas Innovates has written about. Beginning on January 9, 2024, Pivotal customers will be able to place orders with a deposit of 25% of the purchase price. First customer shipments will commence on June 10, 2024, the company said. 

See more from the 2023 UP.Summit on Friday

‘UP’ in Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott Courts Tech Innovators at Transportation Summit

[Photo: Office of the Governor]

The invitation-only UP.Summit at the Perot family’s Circle T Ranch in Westlake brought together minds, money, and mobility tech from around the world last week. UP.Partners’ industry ecosystem also includes investment in transportation tech companies “that make you say, ‘Hell yes!'” and a venture lab ranked No. 7 in Fast Company.

Plus …

To see lots of great images taken at the UP.Summit, check out this photo gallery from the Dallas Morning News, which includes Ross Perot Jr. standing in front of a Pivotal BlackFly eVTOL and former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the wheel of a Resorter, a new “neighborhood electric vehicle” from California-based Meyers Manx. Alexandra Skores’ DMN article on the UP.Summit is here.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram offers a great recap today, too.

Flying Magazine gives you a look at everything from Stoke Space’s Hopper2 rocket demonstrator to the Jedsy glider drone to Zipline’s P2 delivery droid and more, all showcased at the UP.Summit.

If your thumb feels like a little mobility, you can also scroll through these LinkedIn posts about the UP.Summit event.

Get on the list.
Dallas Innovates, every day.

Sign up to keep your eye on what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth, every day.

One quick signup, and you’re done.  

R E A D   N E X T

  • Fort Worth-based drone show company Sky Elements broke a Texas record Sunday night—and spread a little holiday cheer as well. To attract attention for the North Richland Hills toy drive benefitting the Community Enrichment Center, Sky Elements presented a "1,001 Drones Holiday Show" over the Birdville ISD Fine Arts/Athletic Complex.

  • EarthX is seeking innovators and investors to participate in its 2023 EarthX E-Capital Summit April 19-22 at Fair Park in Dallas. At the summit, early-stage climate tech companies will be able to make pitches for a chance at a cash prize. There will also be discussions on investment and industry trends by leading industry professionals, investors, startups, and policymakers, EarthX said, along with curated and self-selected one-on-one networking meetings between investors, dealmakers, and innovators.

  • Global Silicon Valley’s Michael Moe is teaming up with Hoque Global CEO Mike Hoque on the inaugural SMU+GSV Mission Summit in May. GSV recently moved its headquarters from Northern California to downtown Dallas' historic Adolphus building.

  • Game-changing leaders share insights on ways nonprofits can recover from pandemic-related setbacks and build resilience for long-term success at Capital One’s seventh annual summit.

  • You may hear a buzz in the air soon within a mile of 11 Dallas-area Walmart stores, but it's not the sound of an early electric Santa sleigh. It's another sign that commercial drones are becoming more and more a part of our daily lives. The big-box giant has expanded its drone delivery partnership with DroneUp into Texas. For a $3.99 delivery fee, customers within a mile of each store can order packages and see them drop gently to their yard or driveway on the same day.