Airborne Wind Energy, data-based predictive control and the challenges of real-world autonomous systems
This plenary is proposed by the 2019 EUCA Award winner.
Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) is an innovative concept that exploits autonomous tethered aircrafts to harvest wind energy. Thanks to its flexibility and predicted low capital cost, AWE promises a strong complementarity with existing renewables and a significant increase of the total share of renewables in our energy mix. Conceived in the late ‘70s and pioneered experimentally starting around 2004, AWE systems represent today a growing R&D sector, with clear technology convergence and industrialization processes in place. Yet, the road to commercialization is still risky and presents important challenges, many in the area of automation and control engineering. As an example, these systems will have to operate with minimal supervision, fully autonomously for decades, in a highly uncertain and harsh environment, carrying out repeated, feedback-stabilized trajectories. This talk will present the main aspects of AWE and the milestones achieved, provide an overview of the sector, and describe the challenges ahead. These challenges motivate recent research in the area of data-based predictive control of uncertain systems, which will be reviewed as well.