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Uber researches vertical-takeoff planes for city rides

The tech could be ready to take flight within the next decade, says product head Jeff Holden.

An artist's impression of military agency DARPA's vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's your Uber ride arriving to take you to work.

Uber is researching how to offer customers short-haul flights on vertical-takeoff aircraft in future, the ride-hailing company's Product Head Jeff Holden told a a Recode reporter on stage at the Nantucket Conference on Sunday.

Holden said the company is looking into drone-like aircraft, "so we can someday offer our customers as many options as possible to move around."

"Doing it in a three-dimensional way is an obvious thing to look at," he said.

Vertical-takeoff and landing aircraft have multiple rotors and fixed wings that allow them to conduct controlled ascents and descents like a helicopter, but fly like more like a plane. Holden's vision is that they would takeoff and land on top of buildings throughout a city, transporting multiple passengers on short-haul flights.

Research into the transportation has so far mainly been conducted by the military -- including DARPA, the US Department of Defence's agency for developing new tech. But Holden predicted that the technology could be ready for takeoff within the next decade and said it was another method Uber could use to accomplish its goal of eliminating private car ownership.

Uber declined to comment further on Holden's remarks.