Ted Dengel, managing director of operations technology for FedEx, shared with Robotics Business Review a preview of his talk for the then-upcoming Robotics and AI Summit in Boston (it was held in June). Dengel said FedEx, UPS, Amazon, and the U.S. Postal Service are all anticipating 15%-18% increases in shipping volumes within the next five to 10 years. The companies are all working with the same consultants, but FedEx wants its solutions to be unique. Dengel said it is easy to automate the handling of standard-size boxes; but FedEx still has to ship things like kayaks and tires. Dengel wants his robots to be flexible enough to provide specialized handling for every shipment. Another problem is being equipped to handle seasonal rushes while not investing in machinery that sits idle most of the time. One option would be developing variable-speed robots. Dengel disagrees that automation will lead to unemployment. With shipping volumes increasing, it is already difficult to fill positions. He says robots only “elevate the level of work by humans,” making it more discretionary and complex and less boring.