Success for autonomous vehicle trial at bp refinery

A bp refinery in Germany has successfully hosted an autonomous vehicle trial in partnership with autonomous vehicle software company Oxbotica.

The trial at bp’s refinery in Lingen is said to be a first for the energy sector and the latest addition to the bp ventures technology portfolio.

According to bp, the vehicle travelled over 180km fully autonomously, navigating busy junctions, narrow paths, railway crossings, and multiple terrains, at all times of the day and in unpredictable weather conditions.  Oxbotica said it deployed its autonomy software platform and integrated into existing infrastructure within two hours of arriving on site.

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By the end of the year bp expects to deploy its first autonomous vehicle to monitor for irregular conditions, faulty equipment and security threats more frequently and around the clock.

“Lingen has 30km of roads,” said Morag Watson, bp’s SVP digital science and engineering. “Intelligent technology like this helps us make the incremental but equally critical improvements to our operations. I am looking forward to working with Oxbotica to explore how we can unlock the full potential of autonomy.”

The announcement follows bp’s recent $13m equity investment in Oxbotica, which gives the Oxfordshire-based company access to bp’s operations, retail sites and customer network.

autonomous vehicle
Oxbotica at Lingen Refinery (Image: bp/Oxbotica)

Oxbotica CEO Ozgur Tohumcu said: “The investment from bp will allow us to scale our autonomous software platform across the energy ecosystem with a number of planned use cases and unlock the true power of universal autonomy.”

Bp believes that Oxbotica’s technology can ultimately help it create a safer operating environment for field workers through its repeatable and predictable application.

According to Oxbotica, the software can be installed into any vehicle and can work indoors, outdoors, underground, in any weather condition and any time of day or night. It has zero dependence on external infrastructure such as GPS or third-party mapping and is completely sensor- and platform-agnostic.

Erin Hallock, managing partner at bp ventures added: “Oxbotica’s technology makes autonomous vehicles safer due to improved vision, more efficient due to reduced downtime and less carbon intensive through forensic control of acceleration, braking and driving patterns.”