Wing 6 Prototype Test-Flight: Demonstrating Transitions
Makani Power, who we featured on TreeHugger Radio last, is working on a pretty innovative way to harness wind power. Their technology doesn't look anything like what you'd expect when you hear the words "wind turbine"; it's rather more like a cross between a kite and a model airplane (for now, it's eventually going to get bigger), and if can be made to scale up and work reliably, it could change the world.
Above is the video showing the Wing 6 prototype in action. The goal of the test was to demonstrate that flight transitions - transition from hover to crosswind flight, fly in crosswind and transition from crosswind back into hover - were possible with this design, something that is crucial for the Makani Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) to work.
While these transitions have been demonstrated in Makani's six degrees of freedom (6-dof) model, transitions like these have never been demonstrated with a tethered wing.
On September 17, Makani's team demonstrated that these transitions are indeed possible with the Wing 6 prototype. The success of this test proves that the same planform can be used for tethered hover, crosswind flight and the difficult transitions between these modes. Wing 6 is built with the same aerodynamic configuration as the proposed Makani 1MW system and confirms that this is an effective design.
You can see more footage from test flights here.
Understanding How AWT Works
To find out more about the concept behind the Makani airborne wind turbines, check out this very well made explanation. I'd put some of it here, but it's all very nice animations, so you better go over their site.
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