BP trials autonomous cars at German refinery

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Energy company BP says it has successfully completed an autonomous vehicle trial at its Lingen refinery in Germany, working with Oxbotica, a specialist in autonomous vehicle software. The company states the trial was a world-first in the energy sector and the latest addition to the BP ventures technology portfolio.

During the trial, the vehicle traveled over 180km fully autonomously, navigating the extensive and complex environment of the refinery, including busy junctions, narrow paths, railway crossings and multiple terrains, during both day and night and in unpredictable weather conditions. Oxbotica says that it 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 says it aims to progress to deploying its first autonomous vehicle for monitoring operations at the refinery by the end of the year. It hopes the self-driving vehicles will enhance human operations and improve safety by increasing the monitoring for irregular conditions, faulty equipment and security threats, making monitoring more frequent and around-the-clock. The autonomous vehicles’ enhanced analytics will help the site reduce the size of its current fleet.

Morag Watson, SVP of 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.

“Lingen has 30km of roads,” she continued. “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.”

The announcement follows BP’s recent US$13m equity investment in Oxbotica.

Ozgur Tohumcu, CEO at Oxbotica, noted, “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.”

 

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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