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					What Is A Technical Readiness
 Level and How Is It Used?


          L. Waganer


      12-13 December 2007
   ARIES Project Meeting at GA

              Page 1   ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
   Origin of Technical Readiness Levels
Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) are a systematic metric that provides
an objective measure to convey the maturity of a particular technology.


They were originally developed by NASA*, but with a little modification
(getting rid of all the "in space" qualifiers, for example), they are used to
express the readiness level of just about any technology project.


The Department of Defense has adopted this metric to evaluate the
readiness levels of new technologies and guide their development toward
the state where they can be considered “Operationally Ready”.




  * Mankins (1995), Technology Readiness Levels: A White Paper

                                                    Page 2       ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
            GAO TRL Recommendations
In a 1999 report [4], the General Accounting Office (GAO) showed that failure to
properly mature new technologies in the science and technology (S&T), or
laboratory, environment almost invariably leads to cost and schedule over-runs in
acquisition weapons system programs.


In their report, the GAO found [4, p.12] that separating technology development from
product development is an industry best practice. The report puts it this way,
“Maturing new technology before it is included on a product is perhaps the most
important determinant of the success of the eventual product—or weapon system.”
This statement says that you must be certain that a technology is mature before
including it as part of a product or weapon system.


“GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense adopt a disciplined and knowledge-
based approach of assessing technology maturity, such as TRLs, DOD-wide, and
establish the point at which a match is achieved between key technologies and
weapon system requirements as the proper point for committing to the development
and production of a weapon system.”

                                        Page 3           ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
         Explanation/Examples of TRLs
TRL 1: Basic principles observed and reported, or "Hey, that's neat."
This level represents pure research. There really isn't even a particular piece of
technology in question. We might be studying basic properties of materials, or
noticing what works really well in “Warcraft III”.

TRL 2: Technology concept and/or application formulated, or "Ooo, idea!"
This level represents taking our observations and coming up with some sort of
practical use for them. Things are still speculative. We could be thinking about
superconductors or Real-time strategy games.

TRL 3: Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof-of-
concept, or "Let's do it."
Development has begun. All we're trying to produce is proof-of-concept for the stuff
we came up with in TRL 2. Getting an experimental process to work in a laboratory
setting, for example.

TRL 4: Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment, or "Gold
spike!" We take our proof-of-concepts from TRL 3, and we integrate them into a lo-fi
version of the system we came up with in TRL 2. A playable demo for project-pitching
purposes, for example.

                                         Page 4           ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
           Explanation/Examples of TRLs
TRL 5: Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment, or "Alpha"
Similar to TRL 4, but this version is robust enough to deal with "real life" conditions,
or, at least, a decent simulation of those conditions. Testing something in a vacuum,
or a playable demo that you could bring to a conference for people to try out.

TRL 6: System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant
environment (ground or space), or "Beta"
Any model or prototype is now well beyond the jerry-rigged TRL 4 version. At this
point, testing is happening in a real environment. Beta testers are called in, or you
throw it on a shuttle, and try it out in space. According to NASA, this step is driven
more by management confidence than actual technical requirements.

TRL 7: System prototype demonstration in a space environment, or "Things! In!
Spaaaace!" Not mapping very well to projects outside of NASA, this level is for the
purpose of assuring system engineering and development management confidence.
Not all technologies need this level of assurance. One example of one that does
would be the Mars Pathfinder Rover, which is a TRL 7 technology demonstration for
future Mars micro-rovers of similar design.



                                          Page 5          ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
          Explanation/Examples of TRLs
TRL 8: Actual system completed and "flight qualified" through test and demonstration
(ground or space), or "Gone gold" By definition, all technologies being applied in
actual systems go through TRL 8. At this point, you have completed a Theoretical First
Unit (TFU), or otherwise gotten a product ready for primetime. Version 1.0, basically.

TRL 9: Actual system "flight proven" through successful mission operations, or "Kid
tested, mother approved."
Once your product is in use, it's TRL 9 by definition. This TRL does not include any
expansions, or upgrades, which have their own TRLs, as appropriate.




                                        Page 6          ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
                  Real Usage of TRLs
In Aerospace and high technology companies, TRLs are used to
determine if the status of a technology and what is needed to mature
it for an operational application.

It is used for both hardware and software technologies. Processes
and software tools are judged to the TRL metric to help them mature.

The DoD TRL definitions is a refined set of the previous NASA set of
TRLs (shown on the next several pages). The Defense Acquisition
Agency is the primary user and advocate of TRLs. They have a
complete program called Technology Maturity and Technology
Readiness Assessment that is used on evolving programs.




                                 Page 7         ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
NASA Graphic Depicting TRLs

              This graphic illustrates
              the progressive steps
              necessary to mature
              technologies and
              integrate them into
              subsystems, systems,
              and programs




            Page 8     ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
                    The Whale Chart 2
TRL Calculator, Wm L. Nolte, AFRL at Assessing Technology Readiness and Development Seminar, 4/28/05




    This version of the Whale Chart maps the Technology Life Cycle to the
    DoD and NASA Project Life Cycle and Program Milestones
    Technology Readiness Levels occur early in the Technology Life Cycle



                                              Page 9              ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
   Defense Acquisition Definition of TRLs
Technology Readiness Level            Description
1. Basic principles observed and      Lowest level of technology readiness.
   reported.                             Scientific research begins to be translated
                                         into applied research and development.
                                         Examples might include paper studies of a
                                         technology's basic properties.
2. Technology concept and/or          Invention begins. Once basic principles are
    application formulated.              observed, practical applications can be
                                         invented. Applications are speculative and
                                         there may be no proof or detailed analysis
                                         to support the assumptions. Examples are
                                         limited to analytic studies.
3. Analytical and experimental        Active research and development is initiated.
   critical function and/or              This includes analytical studies and
   characteristic proof of concept.      laboratory studies to physically validate
                                         analytical predictions of separate elements
                                         of the technology. Examples include
                                         components that are not yet integrated or
                                         representative.


                                      Page 10         ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
  Defense Acquisition Definition of TRLs
Technology Readiness Level       Description
4. Component and/or breadboard   Basic technological components are integrated
validation in laboratory         to establish that they will work together. This is
environment.                     relatively "low fidelity" compared to the eventual
                                 system. Examples include integration of "ad
                                 hoc" hardware in the laboratory.
5. Component and/or breadboard   Fidelity of breadboard technology increases
validation in relevant           significantly. The basic technological
environment.                     components are integrated with reasonably
                                 realistic supporting elements so it can be tested
                                 in a simulated environment. Examples include
                                 "high fidelity" laboratory integration of
                                 components.
6. System/subsystem model or     Representative model or prototype system,
prototype demonstration in a     which is well beyond that of TRL 5, is tested in a
relevant environment.            relevant environment. Represents a major step
                                 up in a technology's demonstrated readiness.
                                 Examples include testing a prototype in a high-
                                 fidelity laboratory environment or in simulated
                                 operational environment.


                                 Page 11           ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
  Defense Acquisition Definition of TRLs
Technology Readiness Level           Description
7. System prototype demonstration    Prototype near, or at, planned operational
in an operational environment.       system. Represents a major step up from TRL
                                     6, requiring demonstration of an actual system
                                     prototype in an operational environment such
                                     as an aircraft, vehicle, or space. Examples
                                     include testing the prototype in a test bed
                                     aircraft.
8. Actual system completed and       Technology has been proven to work in its
qualified through test and           final form and under expected conditions. In
demonstration.                       almost all cases, this TRL represents the end
                                     of true system development. Examples
                                     include developmental test and evaluation of
                                     the system in its intended weapon system to
                                     determine if it meets design specifications.
9. Actual system proven through      Actual application of the technology in its final
successful mission operations.       form and under mission conditions, such as
                                     those encountered in operational test and
                                     evaluation. Examples include using the
                                     system under operational mission conditions.


                                    Page 12          ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
               AFRL TRL Calculator
 The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) has developed and is using a
 hardware and software TRL calculator. It has a set of criteria for
 each TRL level to analytically assess the maturity of the hardware
 or software.

 Link to Excel-Based AFRL TRL Calculator


Should ARIES use the AFRL TRL Calculator?
I hesitate using this calculator as it implies more detail than we
know or probably really need. Instead, I would suggest if you have
any question the maturity level of your technology, refer to the
written tables and the calculator for guidance to help formulate your
own assessment.



                              Page 13       ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
            More Extensions to TRLs
           Systems Readiness Level
          Integration Readiness Level
Some experts feel that implementation of TRLs are inadequate to
accurately assess the ability to integrate new technologies into
systems. The Stevens Institute of Technology has introduced two
additional assessments to help address these areas.

                              Determining System
                            Interoperability using an
                          Integration Readiness Level

  Also a Process Readiness Level




                                    Page 14    ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007
Should ARIES-Pathways Use TRLs?
The use of TRLs would help our project quantify our understanding
of the maturity of the technologies needed for Demo. This would
provide a uniform set of baseline metrics for assessment.

The downside is that the fusion community and the nuclear
industry, in general, probably is not familiar with this terminology,
so we will have to educate them.

Yea or Nay?




                              Page 15       ARIES Project Meeting,   L. M. Waganer, 12-13 December 2007

				
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