Launching and Landing Tethered Planes for Airborne Wind Energy

Launching and landing is one the most critical unsolved issues to achieve fully autonomous operation for airborne wind energy systems. The scope of this project is to optimize for robust control trajectories for launching and landing of a tethered aircraft.


The aim of the project at Ampyx Power and the University of Freiburg is to develop robust control methods for launching and landing of the PowerPlane developed at Ampyx Power. During the project a controller will be implemented, which requires modelling, controller design and testing. Detailed models of interaction between aircraft and launch mechanism will be developed, including subjects such as friction, short tether dynamics, and elasticity to obtain a reliable simulation of the early launch stage, when the plane is close to the platform. This model will be used to search and optimize for robust trajectories to launch the PowerPlane without secondary propulsion system. Model predictive control schemes with sufficient robustness to fly these trajectories at strong winds will be developed.

PhD Researcher

Jonas Koenemann is an industrial PhD student on the Marie Curie AWESCO project at Ampyx Power in the Netherlands being affiliated with the University of Freiburg, Germany. He received his Master degree in Computer Science at University of Freiburg in 2014, specializing in computer vision, artificial intelligence, and robotics. He spent one semester at University of La Laguna, Spain, and completed an internship at the LAAS-CNRS institute in Toulouse, France, with first-time results in applying non-linear model predictive control to a full-size humanoid robot. After his studies he has been working as a research and teaching assistant at the chair of Prof. Moritz Diehl at IMTEK Freiburg on dynamics systems and optimization. Jonas Koenemann lives in the Hague, the Netherlands.


Prof. Moritz Diehl, Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK), 15% FTE involvement as training coordinator and leader of WP2, holder of ERC StG on High-Altitude Wind Power Generators. Co-Editor of Springer book on Airborne Wind Energy. Supervisor of 7 PhD students and 4 postdocs. Prof. Moritz Diehl recently moved from KUL to ALU-FR, therefore he has a double affiliation to ALU-FR and KUL.

Sören Sieberling manages the PowerPlane control system development and also coordinates the flight testing campaigns. He joined Ampyx Power after completing his MSc in Aerospace Engineering / Dynamics and Control of Aerospace Vehicles cum laude at Delft University of Technology in 2009. During his studies Sören completed internships focusing on (Incremental) Nonlinear Dynamic Inversion for unmanned aerial vehicles at EADS and the Dutch Aerospace Laboratory.