Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs)

Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs): Identify the readiness level of the technology associated with the project and the planned progression during project execution.


Basic principles observed and reported: Scientific problem or phenomenon identified. Essential characteristics and behaviors of systems and architectures are identified using mathematical formulations or algorithms. The observation of basic scientific principles or phenomena has been validated through peer-reviewed research. Technology is ready to transition from scientific research to applied research.


Technology concept and/or application formulated: Applied research activity. Theory and scientific principles are focused on specific application areas to define the concept. Characteristics of the application are described. Analytical tools are developed for simulation or analysis of the application.


Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof of concept: Proof of concept validation has been achieved at this level.  Experimental research and development is initiated with analytical and laboratory studies. System/integrated process requirements for the overall system application are well known. Demonstration of technical feasibility using immature prototype implementations is exercised with representative interface inputs to include electrical, mechanical, or controlling elements to validate predictions.


Component and/or process validation in a laboratory environment- Alpha prototype (component): Standalone prototyping implementation and testing in a laboratory environment demonstrate the concept.  Integration and testing of component technology elements are sufficient to validate feasibility.


Component and/or process validation in relevant environment- Beta prototype (component): Thorough prototype testing of the component/process in the relevant environment to the end user is performed. Basic technology elements are integrated with reasonably realistic supporting elements based on available technologies. Prototyping implementations conform to the target environment and interfaces.


System/process model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment- Beta prototype (system): Prototyping implementations are partially integrated with existing systems. Engineering feasibility is fully demonstrated in actual or high-fidelity system applications in an environment relevant to the end user.


System/process prototype demonstration in an operational environment- Integrated pilot (system): System prototyping demonstration in operational environment. System is at or near full scale (pilot or engineering scale) of the operational system, with most functions available for demonstration and test. The system, component, or process is integrated with collateral and ancillary systems in a near production quality prototype.


Actual system/process completed and qualified through test and demonstration- Pre-commercial demonstration:  End of system development. A full-scale system is fully integrated into an operational environment with fully operational hardware and software systems. All functionality is tested in simulated and operational scenarios with demonstrated achievement of end-user specifications.   Technology is ready to move from development to commercialization.


The system/process is in at-scale long-term commercial operations.