UK autonomous vehicle software company Oxbotica has successfully completed a driverless car trial at a Bp refinery in Germany.
The trial was reportedly a world-first in the energy sector and demonstrated how autonomous vehicles can help Bp improve safety, increase efficiency and decrease carbon emissions at its sites.
During the trial, the Oxbotica test vehicle travelled over 180km (111 miles) fully autonomously. It safely navigated the Bp refinery, including busy junctions, narrow paths, railway crossings, and multiple terrains.
The trial was conducted during both day and night, as well as in a variety of weather conditions.
Furthermore, Oxbotica said it was able to deploy its autonomy software platform and integrate with the existing infrastructure within two hours of arriving on site.
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.”
Following the success of the trial, Bp said it also aimed to deploy its first autonomous vehicle for monitoring operations at the refinery by the end of the year.
For Bp, self-driving vehicles could enhance human operations and improve safety by increasing the monitoring for irregular conditions, faulty equipment and security threats, making it more frequent and around the clock.
Additionally, the autonomous vehicles’ enhanced analytics could help the site to reduce the size of its current fleet.
Morag Watson, SVP for digital science and engineering at 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.”
Beyond the trial, Bp said it believed Oxbotica’s technology could help it to create an inherently safer operating environment for field workers through its reliable, repeatable, and predictable application. It therefore recently invested US$13m (£9.5m) in Oxbotica.
The partnership will give Oxbotica access to Bp’s operations, retail sites and customer network.
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.”