Theory and applications of controls, airborne wind energy, and the toolbox engineer

Lorenzo Fagiano

ABB Switzerland

Thursday, August 25, 2016, 11:00

Room 01-012, Georges-Köhler-Allee 102, Freiburg 79110, Germany

Theory and applications of control engineering are equally important aspects, whose interactions are difficult to coordinate: sometimes new methodologies seem to lack connections to real-world problems, and practical solutions seem to overlook the most recent theoretical advancements. The field of airborne wind energy provides an interesting example of such interactions. Being nonlinear, constrained, uncertain distributed systems subject to strong disturbances, airborne wind generators offer endless motivations to develop new control methods, yet the solutions adopted in practice are often strikingly simple, and the related theory is relatively old. Taking airborne wind as a starting point, the talk will elaborate on the possible reasons why such an apparent gap between theory and applications exist, and suggest that the interaction between these two aspects is much less obvious and more complex than imagined. Along the way, some considerations on the need for a control engineer to be a "toolbox" engineer (as discussed in a relatively recent editorial [1]) will be drawn, too.

[1] R.D. Braatz, "Do You Have a Control Tool or a Control Toolbox?", IEEE Control Systems Magazine, vol. 34, n. 3, pp 6-7, June 2014