The essence of AWES

@rschmehl You are the recognised top dude, chief kahuna, big dog of AWES.
How can we defend the statement…
The essence of AWES is substituting hardware with software

4 simple points against…

Software can’t run without wetware or hardware…
Nor can software fly or hold a string. (a physical string nor a byte of data)
Without a sensor a software can’t know what a kite is doing.
Without data of physical world performances software can’t model how an AWES should perform.

Yes, we have to have smart application of resources to capture wind energy whilst airborne.
Yes, software can help us in design, modelling and control of AWES
Very efficient AWES have been observed to operate without any software

AWES does substitute hardware
Compressive & bending hardware is mostly substituted with tensile hardware.
AWES does use software
Yes even Daisy was designed on paper & PC before physical modelling

I like software. Software is code, the same as any language. Language is how we tell the truth. It’s how we share our truth. I’m using about 10 levels of language & software right now transferring this message. For me, this is the best justification of the statement
The essence of AWES is substituting hardware with software
Yes AWES will require millions of lines of code on many levels. Running codes, patterns, gates, checks, handshakes and logic steps will enable the development of working AWES. But what software doesn’t run on a network, through an array, handle matrices, tables, charts & meshes? Software enables scale and so does networking.

Who knows… Maybe I’m in favour of saying
The essence of AWES is substituting hardware with software
after all.


Could you develop your argumentation please?
To stay in concrete things I think we have to move on more complex architectures with easier control in anticipation of a possible success of utility-scale AWE in 50 years.

I’d prefer to keep it succinct thanks @PierreB
We shouldn’t waste time debating whether or not
The essence of AWES is substituting hardware with software

It is one of the paradoxes of scaling that simple things combined make the most complex structures

And yet you ask the question. What are you waiting from @rschmehl? Is this an invitation to develop networked Daisy rather than the current single-line-single-wing computerized crosswind AWES?

I think it was about ten years ago that a known copycat country was in the news for stealing the software necessary to run their wannabe utility-scale wind turbines. Without software, the huge turbines would quickly self-destruct. Wind energy has always utilized automation. People around here who refurbish old utility-scale wind turbines, then re-rate them to make less power for the sake of longevity in a new life at a farm, ranch, estate, etc., program PLC’s to run the turbines. The inverters I run my small turbines through are run by software of some sort. I’ve even reprogrammed solar inverters to optimize performance for wind turbines. I’m guessing even mere charge-controllers for off-grid battery systems use some software by now. Certainly any grid-tie system, even small ones, use software. Even solar inverters use software. So by this point, it would be hard to find any grid-tied system of any kind or size that did not utilize software.
But what you are referring to is, to me, the kind of “sloganism” that gets companies in trouble. It’s like saying “just the tips”. How has “just the tips” worked out so far? Sounded good, but then, as you point out, reality re-enters the picture. Your “tip” ends up having two “tips”. “Tips” turn out to be where the most energy is lost, whereas the hype-based sloganism did not take that into account. The “just the tips” ended up weighing way way way more than a real tip, with multiple compound inefficiencies, resulting in problems even going in a circle at a constant speed. No amount of software helped. At some point, any machine needs sensible design, not just some half-assed “slogan” or unfounded “threats” to get rid of those darned, no-good “windtowers”. Sitting around arguing on the internet about which slogan to champion is really getting mired down in the muck, in my humble opinion.
Joke: How do people get paid for performing circumcisions?
“We work for tips!”

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@Rodread I did not mean that all hardware can be replaced by software. This guiding idea is about replacing a substantial fraction of hardware by software. I think that this is the potential of AWES.


Perfectly said. University training helps.
To begin to detail, we can assume:

  • Current wind turbines: high hardware / software ratio

  • Stationary rotating AWES: medium hardware / software ratio

  • Crosswind AWES (yo-yo and fly-gen): low hardware / software ratio

Thanks @rschmehl and thanks @PierreB

I agree software has huge potential to lightweight, scale and power-up AWES.
Software replacing hardware is a good guiding idea as you say.

Software can optimise AWES designs to replace material before it ever gets onto an AWES
Software can control an AWES to replace materials needed for efficient flight

I still don’t agree that functions of software substituting hardware is the essence nor potential of AWES.
Essence: the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing or its significant individual feature or features:

Proper application of well crafted software has great potential for AWES development. For me the potential for AWES is all about efficient global energy access by lesser material expense.

@PierreB I like the idea of a hardware to software ratio. Would be interested to see g/lines probably more intuitive as lines/g for various systems

Now that’s a comparative metric I’d love to see

Some open design and control software for a networked kite turbine is on git
If anyone want’s to calculate it.
Must update that.

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It is also how we lie and deceive :grin:

I thought it was replacing rigid structures with tensile structures.

But if you are talking about passively stable AWE vs AWE that require computer control like crosswind systems i think we can compare it to airplanes evolution like military fighters. They have gone from good passive stability to not lose control in the air in the past to designing intentionally unstable aerodynamics on military jets today and let the computers keep the airplane flying.

And if you are talking about software as in generative designs, and AI it goes over my head.


Good points.

Yes, but current wind turbines remains inherently stable and works while growing, while crosswind single-line-single-wing AWES don’t work a long time from the beginning, in spite of significant funding and research from now more than twelve years.

R&D in AWE is focused on the aerospace side of AWE, neglecting wind energy side. That cannot work.

This is my impression as well. Actually, I would just plainly say “AWE is about generating wind energy with an airborne rig”, or “Airborne Wind Energy”…

Though software is an important factor for many designs, I don’t think SW is nor intrinsic to or even necessary for AWE in general.

You can’t replace mechanical parts with software. SW can only enable some designs that were difficult or impossible without it. So if you conclude that only this class of AWE is interesting, the statement about software makes sense. But then I believe you are selling many parts of AWE short.

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If the tether is the soul of an AWES, then software is its brain.

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I really like the creative discussion here and have to thank @Rodread to have triggered it :wink:

My original statement was a bit different, though, than the compressed version that @Rodread used at the start of this thread:

The essence of airborne wind energy is to replace material constraints (passive) by control algorithms (active). This is the great potential but at the same time also the challenge of the technology.

This is from the intro page of the AWESCO project website. I am curious what you think about that one.

Hi @rschmehl,

About your original statement: …is it not to replace material (tower) with its (passive) constraints by another material (tether) requiring (active) control algorithms?

IMHO the tether, more than the control algorithms, “is the great potential but at the same time also the challenge of the technology.” The great potential results from the tether lightness, but the challenge is due to the huge space delimited by said moving and tense tether. In some way the control algorithms, as a possibly lesser challenge, perhaps could mitigate issues resulting from tether.

The essence of AWES is using wind energy to lift wind turbines up into wind with more energy

Is a bit snappier and easier

Tensile structures, software, cloth, many aspects have been cited over the years.
I will once again mention that old story of the blind men describing an elephant.
Except in our case “the” elephant is not yet defined, or let’s say may not yet exist.
Or is kite-reeling the answer and we’re just waiting for it to get some traction?.
Blind men trying to find the elephant:
“I think the elephant is small, furry, and cuddly, and likes to lick your face!” “I believe the elephant is cold-blooded, festooned with scales and horns” “No the elephant has six legs!” “The elephant has no legs - they’ve been replaced with software!” “No the elephant is jellylike with no brain at all!” “I think the elephant will save the world!” “The elephant must not be flown since it is fragile, and represents the last of an endangered species!.” “The elephant is a land animal!” “No the elephant is an aquatic animal”. “Well whatever this elephant thing is, we obviously need to keep looking.”

What do God, dark-matter, and AWE have in common? They are all concepts, somewhat undefined, with some people promoting them. Well, except we have actually seen some forms of AWE, just not sure if it will catch on. Gosh, just yesterday it was only God and dark matter…

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