Oil giant bp has successfully completed an autonomous vehicle trial at its Lingen refinery in Germany, working with Oxford-based Oxbotica, a global leader in autonomous vehicle software. The trial was a world-first in the energy sector and the latest addition to the bp ventures technology portfolio.
The announcement follows bp’s recent $13m equity investment in Oxbotica. The partnership will give Oxbotica access to bp’s operations, retail sites and customer network, helping to unlock its potential.
During the trial the vehicle travelled over 180km fully autonomously, safely navigating the extensive and complex environment of the bp refinery, including busy junctions, narrow paths, railway crossings, and multiple terrains, during both day and night and in unpredictable weather conditions. Oxbotica was able to deploy its autonomy software platform and integrate with the existing infrastructure within two hours of arriving on site.
Following the success of the trial, bp aims to progress to deploying its first autonomous vehicle for monitoring operations at the refinery by the end of the year.
Morag Watson SVP digital science and engineering, bp said: “This relationship is an important example of how bp is leveraging automation and digital technology that we believe can improve safety, increase efficiency and decrease carbon emissions in support of our net zero ambition.
“Lingen has 30 km of roads. Intelligent technology like this helps us make the incremental but equally critical improvements to our operations, so we can continue to focus on delivering the energy the world needs in the way that it wants. I am looking forward to working with Oxbotica to explore how we can unlock the full potential of autonomy.”
Ozgur Tohumcu, CEO at Oxbotica said: “As part of our first refinery trial in Lingen, we showcased how autonomy improves safety, reduces emissions and improves productivity. 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.”
Beyond the trial, bp believes that Oxbotica’s technology can help it to create an inherently safer operating environment for field workers through its reliable, repeatable, and predictable application.
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. We are delighted to partner with a business at the forefront of the future of mobility that can modernise bp through autonomy and look forward to scaling the software across bp’s ecosystem.”