Dynamic Modeling, Trajectory Optimization, and Control of a Flexible Kiteplane

Ryan James Caverly, James Richard Forbes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This paper investigates dynamic modeling, trajectory optimization, and control of a flexible kiteplane used for wind energy harvesting. The individual components of the kiteplane, including flexible wings and a rigid fuselage, are modeled separately and then constrained together using the null-space method. The flexible wings of the kiteplane are modeled as flexible plates, and the Rayleigh-Ritz method is used to discretize the partial differential equation that describes the strain energy stored in the wing. The attitude of the kiteplane is described by the direction cosine matrix (DCM) directly and a proportional-integral-derivative control law that makes use of the DCM is implemented for attitude control. An unsteady aerodynamic model based on Theodorsen's lift model is used in simulation to allow for an accurate model under transient conditions. An optimal trajectory is found using a simplified dynamic model and solving a finite-dimensional constrained optimization problem. Numerical simulations of the optimal trajectories are performed to demonstrate the kiteplane's energy-harvesting capability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1297-1306
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 IEEE.


  • Attitude control
  • direction cosine matrix (DCM)
  • dynamic modeling
  • flexible structure
  • kiteplane
  • trajectory optimization
  • wind energy harvesting


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