British multinational oil and gas company bp has completed an autonomous vehicle trial at its Lingen refinery in Germany.

Bp teamed up with autonomous vehicle software company Oxbotica for the project.

This project is the latest addition in bp ventures’ technology portfolio and is claimed to be the first in the energy sector.

The trial saw the vehicle travel more than 180km autonomously.

The vehicle navigated safely through bp refinery’s complex settings, including busy junctions, narrow paths, railway crossings, and several types of terrains in different weather conditions, both during night and day.

Oxbotica deployed its autonomy software platform within the existing infrastructure.

By the end of 2021, bp aims to deploy its first autonomous vehicle for monitoring operations at the facility.

The vehicles are expected to improve human operations and safety by tracking irregular conditions, faulty equipment and security threats.

Due to enhanced analytics, the vehicles are expected help in reducing the refinery’s current fleet count.

Bp SVP digital science and engineering Morag Watson 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. 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.”

Bp recently announced a $13m equity investment in Oxbotica.

The partnership with bp will enable Oxbotica to gain access to bp’s operations, retail sites and customer network and thereby tap the latter’s potential.

Oxbotica’s software can be deployed in any vehicle and can work both indoors, outdoors, underground, and in any weather condition.

In addition to being sensor and platform-agnostic, the software does not depend on external infrastructures such as GPS or third-party mapping.