Watch How the New "SPIDER" Bot Is Using Magnets to Revolutionize Airship Repair - Maxim

Watch How the New "SPIDER" Bot Is Using Magnets to Revolutionize Airship Repair

This acrobatic little arachnid will push airship use forward.
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The patented Self-Propelled Instrument for Airship Damage Evaluation and Repair (Photo: Lockheed Martin Corporation/YouTube)

The patented Self-Propelled Instrument for Airship Damage Evaluation and Repair (Photo: Lockheed Martin Corporation/YouTube)

Here’s the funny thing about giant airships: they don't run so good without the air in 'em. And the errant holes that cause problems can be miniscule.

Enter Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works division, which created and patented a tool called SPIDER. No, it's not a real spider—that's just painted on. It stands for: Self-Propelled Instrument for Airship Damage Evaluation and Repair.

With one half of the unit inside the blimp, and one half outside, and it all held together using the power of magnets, it crawls nearly two miles of an airship's envelope per day, flashing light to find holes, and automatically fixing them while wirelessly reporting back to a central hub.

This is a huge time and manpower saver compared to repair methods from the last century, which involved manually examining the airships with a giant light, and then patching any holes by hand. Lockheed Martin is looking to promote hybrid airship use in the future, so this acrobatic little arachnid is quite the enabling technology.

Doing its thing, scanning the "envelope" (Photo: Lockheed Martin Corporation/YouTube)

Doing its thing, scanning the "envelope" (Photo: Lockheed Martin Corporation/YouTube)