Makani is developing some very interesting technology - power generating kites. They are also utilizing patent filings as an integral part of their strategy to protect and grow their business. They were recently awarded US 10,379,546, which is part of a family of patent filings claiming priority back to a provision patent application (Ser. No. 62/260,246) filed Nov. 25, 2015. Makani is taking advantage of the continuation practice in the US, which is a key tool for early developers of technology to maximize their intellectual property position.
The ‘546 application claims an interesting control strategy for asynchronous flight pattern optimization of multiple kites coupled to a common ground station. The control system generates a respective flight path for each of the kites operating in crosswind flight, where each kite generates electrical energy over time in a periodic profile out of phase with respect to the other kite.
FIG. 3B, reproduced below, from the patent application illustrates an example of a kite transitioning from hover flight to crosswind flight. As explained in the patent application, the asynchronous flight pattern may be determined such that the power profile of each kite is out of phase with respect to the power profile of the other kite so that the peak cumulative power flow into the ground power unit may be decreased, and the cumulative power profile may be substantially regular.
Whether we will see power generation farms using these amazing kites is still “up in the air”, but it is great to see such an innovative company taking advantage of strategic patent filings.