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Fault Tolerant Flight Control for the Traction Phase of Pumping Airborne Wind Energy Systems

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A fault-tolerant control approach is proposed, for a pumping airborne wind energy system (AWES) comprising a tethered fixed-wing aircraft with integrated propellers for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL). First, the flight control design for the traction phase of the system, when the tethered aircraft has to fly in loops using the rudder, is presented. Then, the presence of the propellers, that are normally not used in the traction phase, is exploited to obtain a fault tolerant controller in case of rudder malfunctioning. The approach detects a possible discrete control surface fault and compensates for the loss in actuation by using the VTOL system. A sophisticated model of the system is used to analyse the performance of the proposed technique. The main finding is that the approach is able to handle abrupt rudder faults with high tolerance.

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Correspondence to Lorenzo Fagiano.

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The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

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This research has been supported by Fondazione Cariplo under grant no. 2022-2005, project “NextWind - Advanced control solutions for large scale Airborne Wind Energy Systems”, by the European Union-Next Generation EU in the context of the project PNRR M4C2, Investimento 1.3 DD. 341 del 15 marzo 2022 - NEST - Network 4 Energy Sustainable Transition - Spoke 2 - PE00000021 - D43C22003090001, and by the Italian Ministry of University and Research under grant “P2022927H7 - DeepAirborne - Advanced Modeling, Control and Design Optimization Methods for Deep Offshore Airborne Wind Energy”.

Tareg Mohammed received his M.Sc. degree in electrical engineering, control engineering and intelligent systems from Bandung Institute of Technology, Bandung, Indonesia, in 2017, and a B.Sc. degree in aeronautical engineering (avionics) from Sudan University of Science and Technology, Khartoum, Sudan, in 2008. In 2019 he started a Ph.D. research at Politecnico di Milano. In 2021, he started to work in AWES company (Kitemill AS) as a control system engineer. His current research interests include airborne wind energy simulation and control, and Fault-tolerant control for AWES.

Espen Oland received his Ph.D. degree in engineering cybernetics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in 2014. From 2008 to 2010, he was an Assistant Professor with NUC. In 2012, he was a Visiting Research Scholar with The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, under the supervision of A. Serrani. The last decade he has worked as a researcher at Teknova focusing on condition based maintenance, and as a Product Development Manager at Kitemill AS developing airborne wind energy systems. Oland is currently employed as a senior project engineer at Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, and holds an associate professor position at UiT - The Arctic University of Norway. His current research interests include the control of unmanned aerial vehicles, airborne wind energy systems, spacecraft, underactuated rigid bodies, and behavioral control methods.

Lorenzo Fagiano received his Ph.D. degree in information and systems engineering from the Politecnico di Torino, Italy, in 2009. He is currently Full Professor of automation and control engineering at the Politecnico di Milano. His research interests include constrained estimation and control, set membership methods, and applications to industrial, robotic, and energy systems. He is the recipient of the 2019 European Control Award, the Mission Innovation Champion Award 2019 for Italy, and the 2010 ENI Award Debut in Research Prize.

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Mohammed, T., Oland, E. & Fagiano, L. Fault Tolerant Flight Control for the Traction Phase of Pumping Airborne Wind Energy Systems. Int. J. Control Autom. Syst. (2024).

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