Airship-fixing spider named one of the 10 most important Aerospace innovations of the year by Popular Science Magazine
Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company, has invented an autonomous robotic SPIDER (self-propelled instrument for damage evaluation and repair), which can detect and repair holes in airships.
Without this technology, humans must painstakingly inspect the body of an airship for pinhole leaks before it is inflated.
The patented SPIDER robot, however, saves valuable time and money by inspecting the airship during inflation. It has been designed to magnetically attach itself to the blimp and is able to crawl over the body of the airship, detecting and patching holes with an onboard repair kit.
The airships industry is one of the most renowned and discussed future applications of helium. It is thought that the commercial development of airships could represent a significant demand driver for the global helium business, but we are yet to see the true lift-off for this industry.
The world’s first full sized hybrid aircraft – the Airlander – did, however, achieve its first public flight recently, fuelled in part by helium. BOC sponsored the flight and supplied the helium to the airship’s creator, UK-based Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV).