Uber plans Paris flying-car lab

By (Bloomberg)

Uber Technologies, Inc. will open its first research and development center outside of the US, a lab in Paris focused on flying cars.

“We’re no longer just about cars, we’re about urban mobility. It includes cars, carpool, electric bikes, and flying cars we hope,” Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said in an on-stage interview at a technology conference in Paris.

The ride-hailing company will invest 20 million euros ($23.5 million) over the next five years in the facility, which will be centered on technologies to support the development of Uber Elevate, its flying-car initiative. The project reflects Uber’s view that transportation ultimately will be “three dimensional,” meaning that vehicles will move vertically as well as horizontally, Khosrowshahi said.

With the streets of cities increasingly congested, the CEO wants his company’s future to be airborne. Uber has five airborne-car partners working on a new generation of vehicles designed to fly near dense urban areas, including one owned by Boeing Co. and another founded by the father of the Predator drone.

Uber’s Parisian lab – officially Advanced Technology Center Paris – will open in the fall and the company said it intends to create new jobs in the fields of machine learning and computer vision. The ride-hailing company cited engineering talent and France’s role in global aviation, through Airbus and others, as reasons for setting up a lab there.