Open-Source Software (OSS) is a well-established and widely-accepted means to build commercial products and business models in application areas like IT and the smartphones industry. Recently, robotics has started to enjoy the benefits of OSS as a “technology enabler” which can accelerate time-to-market and lower the cost of building and maintaining a technology stack. A good example is ROS, the open-source Robot Operating System, now a common resource in laboratories and startups around the world for service and research robots. The ROS-Industrial initiative, launched four years ago and now supported by two Consortia connecting more than 40 institutions worldwide, is pursuing industrial robotics and automation.

The technical value of OSS and its potential on the factory floor are becoming accepted in industrial circles, as developers and users communities explore actual deployments in production environments. However, there are also doubts and objections for use with industrial robotics and automation. What are the legal implications in terms of liability? How does open-source licensing work? Can a successful, sustainable business model be built, or is Intellectual Property at risk?

In order to address these concerns, Fraunhofer IPA will host a two-day event on April 19-20 in Stuttgart, Germany. After presenting concrete examples of OSS adoption in deployed industrial technology, the event will provide the most up-to-date information regarding current regulations and examine how successful open-source economic models evolved in other domains, with the help of renowned experts in the field.