Makani begins piloting its tethered drone kite system in Hawaii

January 31, 2019 | Case Study

Makani is an Alphabet (Google X) spinoff and has developed an airborne wind energy system (AWES) for over a decade. Its design uses a drone with a wingspan of 26 m to generate electricity from eight rotors, which spin as the drone travels in a figure-eight pattern; it is rated for 600 kW, relatively high compared to competing similar designs. The drone is powered by a conductive tether to control the crosswind flight necessary for the power generation. In 2018, Makani set up a test site in Hawaii for its 600 kW system to test flight capabilities like hovering, takeoff, and landing. It will operate at about 425 m, above the standard regional limit of 150 m, which required special approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. 

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