Modelling and Periodic Control of Dynamically Uncertain Airfoils

This PhD project aims on extending robust control analysis methods to dynamically uncertain systems under periodic operation. Novel modeling methods as well as improved control approaches for tethered wings are being developed.


Flexible or semi-flexible wings for power generation in AWE applications exhibit significantly uncertain dynamics. Understanding and formulating the dynamics in complex as well as simplified models is essential for optimizing power output, flight performance and reliability of the kite power system. In this PhD, novel modeling, analysis and synthesis methods are considered, with the main goal to exploit the information available under periodic pattern flight for control purposes. In a second step, the aim is to improve existing control schemes and develop new control approaches in order to obtain a fully autonomous, robust and optimized power generation system using tethered wings. The techniques considered involve system perturbation theory, robust control, optimization, run-to-run control and limit-cycle stability theory.

PhD Researcher

Eva Ahbe received her B.Sc. (2013) and M.Sc. (2015) in Physics from Heidelberg University, Germany. Her master studies included a 12 months research period at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford, CA, USA. In September 2015, she started her PhD at the Automatic Control Laboratory at ETH Zurich in the field of modeling and control of kite power systems for Airborne Wind Energy.


Roy Smith Automatic Control Laboratory (IfA) of ETHZ, from 1990-2010 Professor at UCSB, Fellow of IEEE, Associate Fellow of AIAA. His research interests are in modelling identification and control of uncertain systems, applied to automotive systems, levitated bearings, process control, aerodynamic control of atmospheric manoeuvring spacecraft, distributed control of vehicle formations, and flexible structure control.