You've probably heard of U-2 Dragon Lady
, SR-71 Blackbird,
and F-117 Nighthawk
, well, these strategic aircrafts were brought to you by Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works team. Now, they are presenting Spider, a device that repairs blimps more efficiently than ever.
As Skunk Works explains, old methods to repair blimps are time-consuming. One has to deflate the blimp (which can take hours) and walk around with a bright, handheld light, looking very carefully for rips and tears.
By contrast, the Spider (short for Self-Propelled Instrument for Damage Evaluation and Repair), however, uses two magnetic halves, one to shine a bright LED light outside the blimp, and one that senses this light from the inside, thus exposing holes and problem areas. It can then move its patching mechanism over said hole, repair it, and then snap before and after pics of the fix, allowing a pair of human eyes to inspect it later.
Competition is also heating up to make a bigger, better, more fuel-efficient blimp. Both Lockheed and the British-owned Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) have allegedly been developing their own models since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, which led to cheaper oil prices. Still, companies needed to move their heavy equipment to remote locations in the desert. With the new blimps expected to cost around $40 million each, Spider could make those large purchases less risky.
source - http://mashable.com