Uber Technologies Inc. will open its first research and development center outside of the U.S., a lab in Paris focused on flying cars.
“We’re no longer just about cars, we’re about urban mobility,” Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said. 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 joins a number of other technology companies opening research facilities in Paris as they try to tap the French capital’s deep pool of scientific and engineering talent. The city boasts some of the world’s top technically oriented universities, including Ecole Polytechnique, with which the San Francisco-based startup has partnered to advance its R&D ambitions.