A Modular Control Architecture for Airborne Wind Energy Systems

Sebastian Rapp, Roland Schmehl, Espen Oland, Sture Schmidt, Thomas Haas, Johan Meyers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
179 Downloads (Pure)


Airborne wind energy is an emerging technology that uses tethered unmanned aerial vehicles for harvesting wind energy at altitudes higher than conventional towered wind turbines. To make the technology competitive to other renewable energy technologies an automatic control system is required that allows autonomously operating the system throughout all phases of flight. In this study a modular control system is presented, adapting the underlying kinematic and dynamic framework from conventional aerospace terminology and applying this to tethered crosswind flight with varying tether length. The high level control strategy in form of a state machine as well as the cascaded flight control structure consisting of path-following guidance and control, attitude and rate loop is presented along with the winch controller. The present work is a first step towards a methodology for the systematic development of reliable and high-performance control solutions for airborne wind energy systems. Models for the airborne system, ground station, as well as the tether connecting the ground system with the airframe will be presented. Results from a simulation study in a realistic wind field will be used to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed concept and to identify particularly challenging situations in the operational envelope.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA Scitech 2019 Forum
Subtitle of host publication7-11 January 2019, San Diego, California, USA
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc. (AIAA)
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-62410-578-4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
EventAIAA Scitech Forum, 2019 - San Diego, United States
Duration: 7 Jan 201911 Jan 2019


ConferenceAIAA Scitech Forum, 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


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