You may miss the smiles, but not the long waits. The flying cars promised by science fiction may not have materialised but SITA Lab — the technology research arm of travel operator SITA — is working on innovations that could soon make humans redundant at airline check-in counters. Instead, a flier will have a robot to ensure trouble-free check-ins. The robot, however, will do a lot more. Targeted at premium-class passengers, it will wait as a passenger gets off his chauffeur-driven car. “You scan your boarding card on the robot’s scanner which verifies that you are on a flight and that yours is a valid boarding pass. The robot will then open the luggage hold and the passenger can put his bags on the robot which will then give him a receipt. The passenger can walk straight in and spend time and money in the duty-free shops. The robot will go directly to the baggage handling system,” says Stephane Cheikh, Innovation Manager at SITA Lab.