Uber is launching a new flying taxi lab in Paris, France, which will be responsible for supporting the company’s Elevate program meant to add a vertical dimension to its futuristic mobility vision, the San Francisco-based startup announced Thursday. The development comes amid Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi’s meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace held as part of a larger event that saw the 40-year-old politician gather technology industry leaders from across the world to talk policy initiatives and investments in Paris which is presently trying to catch up to London on that front. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also attended the same event.
The Advanced Technologies Center Paris (ATCP) will be Uber’s first R&D hub outside of North America that will primarily focus on the company’s flying taxi program in the near term. Uber is planning to invest €20 million ($23.5 million) over the next half a decade into developing new solutions meant to accelerate its mobility vision. Among other things, the Paris center will be working on artificial intelligence technologies that will help UberAIR grow on a significant scale and will be collaborating with the firm’s ATAP arm in the U.S. in order to meet the planned goal of starting pilot programs in Los Angeles, Dallas, and another American city by 2020. The technology hub will begin operations this fall, with Uber confirming it will be looking for AI and engineering talent in the area no later than then.
With entirely electrified transportation being the group’s primary goal, ATCP is planning to partner with urban planners on the Old Continent in order to ensure it’s backing its operations with the optimal infrastructure. Uber on Thursday also announced a five-year research partnership with École Polytechnique, a Palaiseau-based university, with the goal of the initiative being the education of at least one Research Chair of a newly defined field called “Integrated Urban Mobility” meant to help the firm realize its ambitious vision of the future of transportation.