Kite-like Wind Power Generation Control System

Center: Langley Research Center

Category: Power Generation and Storage

Patent: 8,922,041

Inventor: David D. North


NASA Technology Page

Invention Overview:

Airborne wind energy (AWE) vehicles use the power of the wind to generate power. They have the ability to access more powerful and consistent winds at higher altitudes than traditional wind turbines potentially generating more power. This invention is a control system for kite-like AWE vehicles that keeps the kite in an optimal position in the air to maintain its exposure to power-producing winds to maximize power generation. Power is generated as the AWE vehicle flies because as the tether (attached to the kite) unwinds, it turns a rotor in a turbine generator for power production. This control system consists of a simple digital camera, sensors, and software run on any PC. This system can be used to control any existing AWE system



System/subsystem model or prototyping demonstration in a relevant end-to-end environment (ground or space).  Prototyping implementations on full-scale realistic problems. Partially integrated with existing systems. Limited documentation available. Engineering feasibility fully demonstrated in actual system application



Renewable energy, on/off-shore wind energy generation, military/disaster relief, remote power supply



  • Low cost
  • Higher energy production
  • Light weight (using less “energy”)

Invention Disadvantages and Possible Mitigation:

Need approval from land-use and air space regulations. Also, major AWE companies might be hesitant to adopt this control system because it might require them to re-design their kites and re-do product testing


Potential Technology Bundling:

Proposed bundling with TOP2-231: Compliant electrode and composite materials for piezoelectric wind and mechanical energy conversions