VIDEO: SPIDER robot from Lockheed Martin inspects, repairs blimps

Posted at 7:59 AM, Jul 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 09:40:32-04

When it comes to blimps, experts say tiny holes can cause big problems, and searching for those holes is a daunting task.

We're talking crews inside and outside of the blimp, shining a giant hand-held light and searching for little discrepancies. 

The blimp also has to be deflated. 

So, one company decided to develop a robot to do the work for them. Lockheed Martin has introduced the SPIDER. 

Sure, it's a cute name, but it stands for Self-Propelled Instrument for Damage Evaluation and Repair.

Company officials say in a recent video posted to YouTube that the autonomous robots can actually scan the entire inflated blimp section by section,  locate trouble spots and then repair them.

SPIDER has two halves that magnetically connect together on each side of the blimp's skin or envelope. One part reportedly shines light, and the other part, equipped with sensors, looks for the holes.

If it finds one, the company says it does some nifty patchwork and sends a before and after picture back to the command center.

Officials say spider significantly reduces the manpower needed to maintain airships and can travel about two miles per day. The company is testing out the bots on its hybrid airship.