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“Imagine flying an airplane like a kite, well we do it,” says Dutch company Ampyx Power.

Along with TKI Wind op Zee, it is developing kite-like tethered drones to harness energy directly from high-altitude wind.

ESA’s Navigation Innovation and Support Programme (NAVISP) is supporting the company in developing a precision takeoff and landing system, allowing the drones to land automatically as needed.


Flying patterns

Basically, we’re talking a big drone connected to the ground by a cable, which is connected to a generator, and by flying patterns it pulls on the cable and generates power.

It’s a smaller system compared to traditional wind turbines – the company estimates only 10% of the equivalent material is used. And a benefit of flying higher with the drone is that the winds are stronger, so it generates more energy than the conventional turbine.

The first version had a 5m wing span, and the company is now building a larger second version ahead of commercial release. The super-strong cable is also undergoing revision.

The work was highlighted by ESA:

ESA’s NAVISP, focused on future navigation technologies, is therefore working with Ampyx Power and UK tracking specialist OmniSense to develop a robust backup local positioning system. The aim is to harness ultra-wideband positioning techniques to provide 10 cm of relative positioning accuracy, updating every hundredth of a second 100 Hz with an operating range up to 1 km.

Watch the video below:

 

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