Keyvisual Recht-Testbed

Nowadays, machines are already able to communicate with other machines and make decisions for themselves. However, this new dimension of autonomy raises some highly complex legal questions. That is why, in our »Industry 4.0 Legal Testbed«, or LEGAL TESTBED for short, we are currently developing a digital testbed to investigate automated business processes. The LEGAL TESTBED aims to provide policymakers and companies with recommendations for action concerning new legal standards.

Our key challenges include

Concluding and implementing contracts by machines

How legally effective are declarations of intent when they are made by machines?  

Responsibilities and liabilities

How can we ensure the verifiability of services, which are delivered autonomously by machines?

Making Industry 4.0 legally compliant

The extent to which LEGAL TESTBED supports companies in the legally secure automation of concluding and executing a contract is explained using the transport use case! In the transport scenario, LEGAL TESTBED supports in the automation of contract-relevant events and accompanies the fictitious companies NailTech and Kaiser Transporte in their legally and IT-secure entry into Industry 4.0.

Why do we need a LEGAL TESTBED?

Research in Germany has already achieved the technological breakthrough for the use of artificial intelligence in production and logistics. But discussions about the legal aspects are just beginning. In particular small and medium-sized companies are therefore hesitant to invest in these new intelligent systems. However, as a result they risk losing touch with the international markets. On that account, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and  Climate Action is supporting the application-oriented research project LEGAL TESTBED in order to settle any unresolved legal questions and ensure that significant business transactions are legally compliant and watertight. The digital testbed will be publicly accessible so all companies will be able to use it.

Illustration Recht-Testbed

The Testbed

The LEGAL TESTBED is a digital testbed which simulates scenarios where machines negotiate and conclude contracts.

Illustration Use Cases


The Use Cases of the LEGAL TESTBED are set up and acted out scenarios also featuring disruptions which will be analyzed and evaluated from a legal perspective.

Automated trust management

For cooperation between companies to function smoothly and efficiently, mutual trust is an essential prerequisite. LEGAL TESTBED explores how trust can be established automatically and the challenges that arise.

The project is a major step towards full automation. Machines will be in a position to take care of a lot of bureaucratic work. Smart contracts can also accelerate business processes considerably.

Dr. Martin Böhmer

Project Leader Industry 4.0 Legal Testbed, Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics

The LEGAL TESTBED is opening up a new chapter in the legal research of Industry 4.0: technically, it is already possible for machines to negotiate with each other, conclude contracts and provide services. But what does that mean for current laws? Or perhaps we should ask: how can legally compliant solutions be created on the basis of current law?

Prof. Dr. Georg Borges

Chair for Civil Law, Informatics Law, German and International Business Law and Theory of Law, Saarland University

In such a pioneering project, it is important that the transfer to industry is considered from the beginning. We want to make sure this happens and provide support with our specialist knowledge.

Dr. Hans-Jürgen Schlinkert

Head of the “Legal Framework” Working Group, Platform Industry 4.0