Emerging Technologies

Uber is building an advanced technology hub in Paris to research flying taxis

The logo of Uber is pictured during the presentation of their new security measures in Mexico City, Mexico April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme

Uber's Paris research and development hub will be its first outside of North America. Image: REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme

Rebecca Smith
Writer, Business Insider
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Emerging Technologies

Uber's flying taxi plans are well and truly taking off.

The company announced this morning that it will be building a new advanced technologies centre in Paris for research focused on its flying taxi Uber Elevate project.

The research and development hub will be its first outside of North America, and over the next five years, the company will be plugging €20m (£17.5m/$23.5m) into developing new tech there.

Eric Allison, head of aviation programmes at Uber, said that each month more than 70m people across the road use the Uber app for a trip.

"But we've realised that to create efficient cities with less congestion and cleaner air, we also need to look to the sky," he said. "To do this we launched our Elevate program in 2016 to build a network of all-electric, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft powered by distributed electric propulsion."

Allison added that Uber was also looking to invest in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber's chief executive, said:

"Building the future of our cities will require the best and brightest minds working together.

"With world-class engineers and a leading role in global aviation, France is the perfect place to advance our Uber Elevate program and new technology initiatives.

"We're excited to partner with École polytechnique to shape the future of urban mobility, on the ground and in the air."

The European move comes after calls for London mayor Sadiq Khan to pitch for Uber to bring its flying taxi project to the capital, but so far City Hall has been cool on the project.

UberAIR, as it will be known, has already picked Dallas and Los Angeles as its first two potential launch cities, and is on the hunt for a third international city to bid for the chance to have demonstration flights by 2020.

But the ride-hailing app is already embroiled in a battle with Transport for London(TfL) over its London operations, with a court hearing getting underway next month to decide whether Uber is fit and proper to hold a licence in the capital.

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