Kitekraft succeeds with autonomous all phase flight of new kite demonstrator

Posted on
September 29, 2020

We are thrilled to announce that we have reached a major milestone in our development towards our first 100kW product with a successful flight in all phases. The flight was fully autonomous apart from giving high level commands to launch and land.

Our work on a number of design iterations and improvements has paid off as they are now flight-proven! With that we are continuing our steps toward the final product design. Have a look at our latest flight in the video below.

In succession you can observe the kite:

  1. Start into hover.
  2. Launch into figure eight flight (“Trans-In”).
  3. Flying the figure eight.
  4. Transition out of figure eight flight to stationary hover (“Trans-Out”).
  5. Hover downwards.
  6. Land on tail wing.

This achievement is a culmination of an extremely busy past months alternating between field test days and analyzing, improving, and adjusting our system. We stress-tested the entire system thoroughly to ensure everything works as intended and we are very happy it paid off.

Kitekraft flight at test site close to Munich.

What this means for Kitekraft

This is a huge validation to all our design work over the past months. These include:

  1. New ground station power electronics with enhanced capabilities.
  2. New custom-designed high-lift multi-element airfoil (watch video here).
  3. New custom-designed stabilizer airfoils.
  4. New kite-side and ground-side tether attachment-gimbals and magnet-based angle sensors (low-cost and rugged).
  5. New flap suspensions.
  6. New powertrain attachment design (now directly mounted to wing).
  7. New boxplane bracings.
  8. New magnet-based wind vane (low-cost and rugged).
  9. New industrial Linux flight control computers.
  10. Loads of flight controller software improvements and other small hardware improvements.

Besides the validation, these tests also provided us with a tremendous amount of data to analyze, learn from, and further improve the entire system. We are excited to achieve this all-phase, autonomous flight, as it speaks to our design and overall technical approach. Especially getting the software for autonomous flight control in place has proven to be a big challenge for airborne wind energy and we are very happy to achieve this in just two years of Kitekraft’s existence

In the coming weeks, further hardware and software improvements as well as flight tests are scheduled to further push the envelope. The entire system is now much more robust and incorporates more and more features required for the final product. This milestone allows us to drastically increase test flight frequency and in turn will enable much more data gathering, learnings, and real-world flight validation. This represents a switch, from the first inventive steps to the start of proving our system’s robustness and reliability, needed and expected from energy infrastructure.

We are looking forward to showing you more and more of our upcoming flight tests and are excited about things to come.

Onwards and upwards!

Posted on
September 29, 2020

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