A senior law enforcement official told NBC News the suspect is believed to be Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, from the Dallas area.
The mayor said the suspect was killed by the device, and disputed earlier reports that he might have shot himself.
At least three other suspects were involved in the attack on officers during a protest Thursday night about police-involved shootings elsewhere in the country. Five officers were killed and seven others were injured, as well as two civilians.
Typically, police forces have bomb squads that employ remote-controlled robots for dismantling explosive devices.
But using robots with explosives or munitions to root out or even kill suspects appears far less routine, experts say.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2014, a SWAT team used a robot when dealing with an armed suspect who barricaded himself inside of a motel room. The bomb squad's robot deployed chemical munitions, "which led to the subject's surrender," police said.
Peter W. Singer, a technological warfare expert and author of "Wired For War," told NBC News that using mobile robots — or MARCbots — to detonate explosives was documented during the early days of the Iraq War — but it's not something he has heard of in domestic policing.
He added that while robots aren't typically designed to be armed — they're used for observation or dismantling purposes — law enforcement could decide to use bomb robots when officers are in immediate danger.
There may be ethical and legal discussions about using a robot to kill the suspect in Dallas, but when it comes down to it, police can argue that they needed to react quickly to use lethal force, police law expert Seth Stoughton told The Atlantic.
"If someone is shooting at the police, the police are, generally speaking, going to be authorized to eliminate that threat by shooting them, or by stabbing them with a knife, or by running them over with a vehicle," Stoughton said. "Once lethal force is justified and appropriate, the method of delivery — I doubt it's legally relevant."