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Control of a Drag Power Kite over the Entire Wind Speed Range

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A control scheme for drag power kites, also known as airborne wind turbines, for the entire wind speed range is proposed, including 1) a temperature controller allowing for temporary overloading of the powertrain; 2) a limitation controller ensuring that power, force, speed, and actuator constraints are satisfied; 3) a tangential flight speed controller; and 4) a tangential force control allocation, which inverts the nonlinearities of the plant and allocates the flight speed controller’s tangential force demand to the available actuators. The drag power kite plant model is based on a point-mass model and a simple aerodynamics model with various drag contributions. Simulations are conducted with the parameters of the 20 kW Wing 7 developed by Makani Power, Inc. The proper working of the control scheme is indicated by the good match of the simulation results with independent simulation results and measurements published by Makani. A temporary overloading of the powertrain with about twice the nominal power can be concluded as a requirement; otherwise the mean power would be significantly lower. Because of the reduction of the lift and thus reduction of the centripetal force at high wind speeds, the inside-down figure eight can be concluded as the best pattern.