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Uber Plans Paris Flying-Car Lab in First R&D Site Outside US

Uber Technologies Inc. will open its first research and development center outside of the U.S., and has chosen Paris as its home.

The ride-hailing company will invest 20 million euros (US$23.5 million) over the next five years in the lab, which will focus on technologies to support the development of Uber’s flying-car initiative, dubbed Uber Elevate, it said in a statement Thursday.

“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,” Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said in the statement.

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.

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.

Three years ago, Facebook Inc. set up an artificial-intelligence research center in Paris — now the company’s largest such lab. DeepMind, the London-based AI company owned by Alphabet Inc., said in March that it is opening a lab in Paris too, following a similar move by sister company Google, announced in January.

Khosrowshahi is due to speak at the Viva Tech conference in Paris later on Thursday.

By Nate Lanxon and Jeremy Kahn

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