Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs)
Technology Readiness Levels Definition
Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) are a type of measurement system used to assess the maturity level of a particular technology and are popular with NASA and the US Department of Defense, etc. Each technology project is evaluated against the parameters for each technology level and is then assigned a TRL rating based on the progress of the project.
Technology Readiness Level (TRL) Scale
There are nine technology readiness levels. TRL 1 is the lowest and TRL 9 is the highest.
The advantages of TRLs
- Provide a common understanding of technology status,
- Risk management,
- Used to make decisions concerning technology funding, and
- Used to make decisions concerning the transition of technology.
The nine hardware TRLs are defined as follows: NASA
- TRL 1 : Basic principles observed and reported,
Scientific research is beginning and those results are being translated into future research and development.
- TRL 2 : Technology concept or application formulated,
It occurs once the basic principles have been studied and practical applications can be applied to those initial findings. TRL 2 technology is very speculative, as there is little to no experimental proof of concept for the technology.
- TRL 3 : Experimental and analytical critical function and characteristic proof of concept,
When active research and design begin, a technology is elevated to TRL 3. Generally, both analytical and laboratory studies are required at this level to see if a technology is viable and ready to proceed further through the development process. Often during TRL 3, a proof-of-concept model is constructed.
- TRL 4 : Component or breadboard validation in a laboratory environment,
Once the proof-of-concept technology is ready, the technology advances to TRL 4. During TRL 4, multiple component pieces are tested with one another.
- TRL 5 : Component or breadboard validation in a relevant environment,
TRL 5 is a continuation of TRL 4, however, a technology that is at 5 is identified as a breadboard technology and must undergo more rigorous testing than technology that is only at TRL 4. Simulations should be run in environments that are as close to reality as possible.
- TRL 6 : System or subsystem model or prototype demonstrated in a relevant environment,
Once the testing of TRL 5 is complete, technology may advance to TRL 6. A TRL 6 technology has a fully functional prototype or representational model.
- TRL 7 : System prototype demonstration in an operational environment,
TRL 7 technology requires that the working model or prototype be demonstrated in a space environment.
- TRL 8 : Actual system completed and “flight qualified” through test and demonstration,
TRL 8 technology has been tested and "flight qualified" and it's ready for implementation into an already existing technology or technology system.
- TRL 9 : Actual system “flight-proven” through successful mission operations.
Once a technology has been "flight-proven" during a successful mission, it can be called TRL 9.