Keyvisual Recht-Testbed

Machines are already able to communicate with other machines and make decisions for themselves, nowadays. 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?

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. That is why it is above all small and medium-sized companies, which therefore shy away from making investments in the new intelligent systems. However, this means they risk losing touch with the international markets. It is in this context that the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is supporting the LEGAL TESTBED application-oriented research project in order to clear up any legal questions and to ensure significant business transactions are designed to be 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


In the Use Cases at the LEGAL TESTBED scenarios are set up and disruptions or other issues are triggered which can then be analyzed and evaluated from a legal perspective.

The project is a great 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 sees us opening up a new chapter of jurisdiction: technically, it is already possible for machines to negotiate with each other and to conclude contracts. But what does that mean for current law? Or perhaps we should ask: which law applies here and what legally watertight solutions are there?

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