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Uber bids to develop flying taxis with new research centre in Paris

Ride-hailing app company Uber has announced plans to invest 20m euros into flying taxis, starting with a research centre in Paris for its Uber Elevate programme - and an ultimate goal of putting cabs in the air by 2023

Grabbing a cab through busy cities could become a lot easier soon after Uber announced it wants to develop the world’s first flying taxis.

The ride-hailing app firm will open its first research centre in France as part of the Uber Elevate programme.

The Advanced Technologies Center, in Paris (ATCP), will cost the company 20m euros over the next five years and is due to open in the autumn.

The investment will go towards work on the back-end technology, artificial intelligence (AI), air traffic control systems and aerial taxi service.

Uber has formed a partnership with Ecole Polytechnique, a French engineering school in Paris.

Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive of Uber, said in a statement: “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.”

Flight tests by 2020

Uber has selected Dallas and Los Angeles as the two launch cities.

They are currently the only two that have agreed to host test flying, which is set to begin in 2020 – with ambitions of launching sky taxis by 2023.

A third international city will also take part at a later date, Uber said.

 

Together with ATCP, those cities will work on research across AI, aviation and all-electric transport.

It should lead to cleaner air and less congestion

The firm, which has its app used by more than 70 million people each month globally, is hoping the use of flying taxis will help create efficient cities with less congestion and cleaner air.

Uber’s head of aviation programmes Eric Allison added: “To do this we launched our Elevate programme in 2016 to build a network of all-electric, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft powered by distributed electric propulsion.

“And as we continue to build a mobility platform for everyone, we know we must invest in AI and machine learning.

“Already we have Uber advanced technology offices in Pittsburgh, Toronto, and San Francisco, where we also have an AI Lab.”