"After Highflyer Crashes, Airborne Wind Energy Regroups"



From the report:
“For example, the removal of energy from passing wind by the kite’s turbine rotors lessened the effectiveness of control surfaces, such as ailerons and elevators. However, the M600 design did not compensate for this deficit, which limited maneuverability, hampering power production.“

Is this the main reason that Makani failed? Why can’t they put the control surfaces near the tips of the wings out of the way of the turbines?

If you look at the kitecraft design
The turbine/props are toward the tips while the tailplane section stays central.
Might help to alleviate some of that problem.

Just one more excuse, also showing they didn’t really know what they were doing. Probably an easy fix, but they went too big, too fast, worshipping a single super-expensive, ponderous prototype rather than honing their chops on cheap, disposable models.

Honing your skills with cheap disposable models

Is a very different approach to engineering than Ampyx are taking in that article…

(Fig. 2). “We are doing this from a systems engineering point-of-view, using the same
standards as the aerospace industry, which is where we get a lot of our engineers,” said
Nastri. “We are not building ten AP3s with the expectation that we will crash nine and
have one—we are designing so they do not crash.”

… Sounds even less experimental and explosive than Makani were

Do you not rate Ampyx’s chances @dougselsam?

See my old prediction below. I am afraid I was a little optimistic. Perhaps @dougselsam will have a more favorable evaluation :wink:

In such dimensions and for a rigid wing, the mass of the turbines does not modify the mass of the assembly very much.

And takeoffs and landings in VTOL mode (Makani, Kitemill) are justified at least as much as the construction of an elevated airport.

Like Charlie Brown every fall, believing that this time Lucy will not pull the football away at the last moment, we take the next press-release, or statement of impending success due to high supposed qualifications, as believable, or even as fact-ahead-of-the-fact, then mysteriously lose interest or pretend it never happened when the “future news” evaporates into nothingness.

I have no opinion on Ampyx. They say they know what they are doing. I take it at face value. Maybe it is true, maybe it is not. I know only that since I’ve been aware, no revolutionary wind energy scheme besides the mainstream effort has borne much in the way of fruit. I mean, just think of the odds at this point: thousands of attempts, zero or near zero real successes. In many cases, the more publicized, promoted and high-profile, the quicker they disprove themselves like Magenn and Altaeros, for example. I look at Magenn, Makani, and Altaeros as the three horses of the apocalypse. How many thousands of times were these sometimes silly images cut-and-pasted into articles and videos? How many “really smart people” supposedly analyzed what was being put forth, nodding with knowing, beard-stroking, high-level-of-thinking approval. Today we have Skysails and what are they called again - oh yeah, Ampyx. Well they’ve both been around for quite a while at this point. Skysails “sold a system” over half a year ago. Supposedly “shipped to Asia” (normally recognized as being in the Northern Hemisphere), although the final destination was kitesurfing haven Mauritius, in the Southern hemisphere off the East coast of Africa. Once again, the future of AWE hinges on a single supposed future operation to power X homes in a remote or inaccessible location, neatly fitting “the pattern”. Not a mention anywhere of whether it has even operated at all, still. No curiosity on the part of any AWE “players” or “interested people” as to how this current leading poster-child-of-AWE is performing. It’s almost like the AWE “community” doesn’t want to know, realizing that the pre-project hype always sounds more satisfying than the resulting reality or lack thereof.
There may be a lot of “aerospace-level talent” hired, and “aerospace-type-activity” involved, but at some point, people who can use these sorts of skills to assess whether something is even promising enough to build needs to be applied, in my opinion.

What I always try to keep in mind is the often uncooperative nature of the wind - it has a lot of power, but only gives it up on its own terms. The wind doesn’t care about how many engineering degrees some team has. I remember an eye-opening revelation when I had a stint building homes as a carpenter, specializing in roof-framing cuz it took the most brainpower, and once you were up there walking the walls getting it done, people left you alone lest they end up having to figure it out. “All you gotta be is smarter then the board” was a saying I heard. “OMG” I realized, as complicated as all these compound angle cuts, I know I’m smarter than a board - I can DO this!
In our case, “All you gotta be is smarter than the wind”. Either a project can outwit the wind, or it can’t. No excuses do any good. No amount of “credentials” will overcome the simple reality that, either you are “smarter than the wind” or you are not. :slight_smile:

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Providing the world with energy through AWE has not been proven to be the expected and natural future. The reverse has not been proven either. In my opinion the key lies in the design and architecture.

Well Pierre, AWE has certainly not turned out to be the no-brainer slam-dunk initially advertised. Those of us with years of wind energy experience knew this all along. Others are just beginning to see it. I agree, like you said, “the key lies in the design and architecture”. In other words, we’re always looking for a way. Still at the starting gate, in a race still yet to be really even defined, after all these years of hype.

Damon Vander Lind, formerly at Makani, perhaps incorporated that lesson into the design of the next thing he is involved in (Kitty Hawk)

Funny how all the guys who WERE going to MAKE energy, end up with projects that USE energy instead. “Well we weren’t so good at MAKING energy, but…”
Interesting that the tilted propellers pull air over the wing and help keep the flow attached to the upper wing surface. This may be the first time I’ve seen an airplane with both canards AND a tail. Still, a few telltale red-flag clues: Failed at Makani, canard + tail, reverse wing sweep, naming an airplane “Heaviside” - huh? See, that right there, to me, injects the spectre of a certain amount of brainlessness. Like it is probably too accurate - with batteries “Well it is a bit on the HEAVY SIDE”…
Could the weight problem be why they fly it empty?
Typical giant beehive takeoff noise - just after they tell you how quiet it is.
The guy does look like a bona-fide nerd though, I’ll give him that.