The robot consists of two magnetically-attached halves, one that sits on the outside of the airship, while the other clings to it from the inside. Using a set of bright LED lights and a camera, the Spider bot can automatically spot pinhole leaks, and then reposition itself to patch them. Photos of the repair, before and after the hole is patched, are sent to a central server for further human inspection, but that adds minimal time to the mostly automated inspection process.


As airships are slowly becoming useful again—for tasks including everything from cargo hauling, to meteorological data gathering, to spreading free internet—there will undoubtedly be a demand for Lockheed’s Spider bot. It might not be as cool or Smithsonian-worthy as the SR-71 spy plane, but it’s a clever solution for keeping airships airworthy.

[YouTube via SlashGear]