BP has completed a successful autonomous vehicle trial at its refinery in Lingen, Germany that the UK supermajor called “a world-first in the energy sector".

The trial involved a self-driving vehicle using software developed by the UK’s Oxbotica, an autonomous driving software company founded by two University of Oxford professors in 2014.


Gain valuable insight into the global oil and gas industry's energy transition from ACCELERATE, the free weekly newsletter from Upstream and Recharge. Sign up here today.

BP plans to deploy its first autonomous vehicle with advanced analytics for monitoring operations at the refinery by the end of the year, a move that the company said will improve safety by looking for “irregular conditions, faulty equipment and security threats” around the clock.

In the Lingen refinery trial, the vehicle travelled over 180 kilometres while successfully navigating busy junctions, narrow paths, railway crossings and varied terrain, BP said.

Oxbotica last month announced it had raised $47 million in a Series B funding round led by BP Ventures, which made a $13 million equity investment in the company.

BP said the company’s software can be used in any vehicle and deployed across multiple industries, and does not depend on any external infrastructure, such as GPS or third-party mapping.

“As part of our first refinery trial in Lingen, we showcased how autonomy improves safety, reduces emissions and improves productivity,” said Ozgur Tohumcu, Oxbotica chief executive, adding that BP’s investment “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”.