Uses of Technology Readiness Levels
The primary purpose of using technology readiness levels (TRLs) is to help management in making decisions concerning the development and transitioning of technology. It should be viewed as one of several tools that are needed to manage the progress of research and development activity within an organization.
Among 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 transition of technology.
Some of the characteristics of TRLs that limit their utility:
• Readiness does not necessarily fit with appropriateness or technology maturity.
• A mature product may possess a greater or lesser degree of readiness for use in a particular system context than one of lower maturity.
• Numerous factors must be considered, including the relevance of the products’ operational environment to the system at hand, as well as the product–system architectural mismatch.
1Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) Guidance. U.S. Department of Defense, April 2011.
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E Technology Readiness Levels in the Department of Defense1 Uses of Technology Readiness Levels The primary purpose of using technology readiness levels (TRLs) is to help management in making decisions concerning the development and transitioning of technology. It should be viewed as one of several tools that are needed to manage the progress of research and development ac- tivity within an organization. Among 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 transition of technology. Some of the characteristics of TRLs that limit their utility: Readiness does not necessarily fit with appropriateness or tech- nology maturity. A mature product may possess a greater or lesser degree of read- iness for use in a particular system context than one of lower maturity. Numerous factors must be considered, including the relevance of the products’ operational environment to the system at hand, as well as the product–system architectural mismatch. 1 Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) Guidance. U.S. Department of Defense, April 2011. 141
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142 TECHNOLOGIES TO ENABLE AUTONOMOUS DETECTION FOR BIOWATCH TABLE E-1 TRL Definitions, Descriptions, and Supporting Information TRL Definition Description Supporting Information 1 Basic principles Lowest level of technology Published research that identi- observed and readiness. Scientific research fies the principles that underlie reported begins to be translated into this technology. References to applied research and devel- who, where, when. opment (R&D). Examples might include paper studies of a technology’s basic properties. 2 Technology Invention begins. Once basic Publications or other references concept and/or principles are observed, that outline the application application practical applications can be being considered and that pro- formulated invented. Applications are vide analysis to support the speculative, and there may be concept. no proof or detailed analysis to support the assumptions. Examples are limited to analytic studies. 3 Analytical and Active R&D is initiated. This Results of laboratory tests per- experimental includes analytical studies formed to measure parameters critical function and laboratory studies to of interest and comparison to and/or charac- physically validate the ana- analytical predictions for criti- teristic proof of lytical predictions of separate cal subsystems. References to concept elements of the technology. who, where, and when these Examples include compo- tests and comparisons were nents that are not yet inte- performed. grated or representative. 4 Component Basic technological compo- System concepts that have been and/or bread- nents are integrated to estab- considered and results from board validation lish that they will work testing laboratory-scale bread- in laboratory together. This is relatively board(s). Reference to who did environment “low fidelity” compared with this work and when. Provide an the eventual system. Exam- estimate of how breadboard ples include integration of hardware and test results differ “ad hoc” hardware in the from the expected system goals. laboratory.
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APPENDIX E 143 TRL Definition Description Supporting Information 5 Component Fidelity of breadboard tech- Results from testing laboratory and/or bread- nology increases significant- breadboard system are integrat- board validation ly. The basic technological ed with other supporting ele- in relevant components are integrated ments in a simulated environment with reasonably realistic operational environment. How supporting elements so they does the “relevant environ- can be tested in a simulated ment” differ from the expected environment. Examples in- operational environment? How clude “high-fidelity” labora- do the test results compare with tory integration of expectations? What problems, if components. any, were encountered? Was the breadboard system refined to more nearly match the ex- pected system goals? 6 System/subsyst- Representative model or Results from a laboratory test- em model or prototype system, which is ing of a prototype system that is prototype well beyond that of TRL 5, is near the desired configuration demonstration tested in a relevant environ- in terms of performance, in a relevant ment. Represents a major weight, and volume. How did environment step up in a technology’s the test environment differ from demonstrated readiness. the operational environment? Examples include testing a Who performed the tests? How prototype in a high-fidelity did the test compare with ex- laboratory environment or pectations? What problems, if in a simulated operational any, were encountered? What environment. are/were the plans, options, or actions to resolve problems before moving to the next level? 7 System proto- Prototype near or at planned Results from testing a prototype type demonstra- operational system. Repre- system in an operational envi- tion in an sents a major step up from ronment. Who performed the operational TRL 6 by requiring demon- tests? How did the test compare environment stration of an actual system with expectations? What prob- prototype in an operational lems, if any, were encountered? environment (e.g., in an What are/were the plans, op- aircraft, in a vehicle, or in tions, or actions to resolve space). problems before moving to the next level? continued
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144 TECHNOLOGIES TO ENABLE AUTONOMOUS DETECTION FOR BIOWATCH TRL Definition Description Supporting Information 8 Actual system Technology has been proven Results of testing the system in completed and to work in its final form and its final configuration under the qualified under expected conditions. In expected range of environmen- through test and almost all cases, this TRL tal conditions in which it will demonstration represents the end of true be expected to operate. As- system development. Exam- sessment of whether it will ples include developmental meet its operational require- test and evaluation (DT&E) ments. What problems, if any, of the system in its intended were encountered? What weapon system to determine are/were the plans, options, or if it meets design specifica- actions to resolve problems tion. before finalizing the design? 9 Actual system Actual application of the OT&E reports. proven through technology in its final form successful mis- and under mission condi- sion operations tions, such as those encoun- tered in operational test and evaluation (OT&E). Exam- ples include using the system under operational mission conditions.