Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg News

Should we be worried about robots taking our jobs?

Some of us, maybe — look what happened to Blockbuster video clerks — but collectively, no, FedEx chief Frederick Smith told student researchers gathered at the University of Memphis on April 6.

“Don’t be afraid of technology and innovation and robotics,” said the Memphian who pioneered overnight delivery and other innovations in logistics. “It makes people more productive. It makes goods less expensive. It makes life better.”

RELATED: ATA’s Chris Spear calls for industry to embrace technology

FedEx ranks No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

Smith spoke at the opening of a National Council on Undergraduate Research conference, which has brought more than 4,000 students and faculty to Memphis this week.

“FedEx is enthusiastically embracing across the company in many ways,” Smith said.

“A couple of weeks ago we put our first public-facing robot, Sam, into a FedEx Office location in Manhattan. Now a customer gives her broken Samsung device to Sam, which takes it back to the technician while the front office person finishes the customer transaction,” Smith said.

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Smith said FedEx’s online virtual assistant at FedEx.com, Ask FedEx, will eventually allow customers to order services by voice, hands- and paper-free on mobile devices.

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By Wayne Risher
The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)


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