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Flying Robots Descend on U.K., Carrying Toilet Paper and Whatnot

Photo: Amazon

Someday Amazon will deliver your toilet paper or French press or blender or screen-printed body pillow to your doorstep via drone. But first, the company has to work out all the kinks of sending weighty boxes through the sky in unmanned aircraft.

Starting this week, Amazon will be testing its drone program in the skies over the United Kingdom, the company announced via press release. The goal is to engineer a system which will “safely get packages up to 5 pounds to customers in 30 minutes or less.” One of the elements Amazon will be focusing on is operating drones “beyond line of sight operations in rural and suburban areas.” This is an issue which Amazon, and anybody attempting to get into the commercial-drone game, faces in the United States, where FAA regulations require drones remain in sight at all times. (The U.K. has a similar rule, but Quartz reports that an exception appears to have been made for Amazon, provided they avoid “crowded urban areas.”)

Amazon continues to test Prime Air (which launched two years ago) drones in the United States, but it seems like the company might have more luck across the pond given this new partnership with the U.K. government. Which means if you want to have a five-pound bag of sugar-free gummy bears dropped at your feet by an Amazon drone, you might have to move. (Good luck with that whole Brexit thing!)

Amazon Testing Drone Delivery in the U.K.