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

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Presentation on theme: "What Is A Technical Readiness Level and How Is It Used?"— Presentation transcript:

1 What Is A Technical Readiness Level and How Is It Used?
L. Waganer 12-13 December 2007 ARIES Project Meeting at GA

2 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

3 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.”

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.

7 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.

8 NASA Graphic Depicting TRLs
This graphic illustrates the progressive steps necessary to mature technologies and integrate them into subsystems, systems, and programs

9 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 shows how the Technology Life Cycle maps to the DoD and NASA Project Life Cycle and Program Milestones of the previous chart. It also includes the TRL scale. Note that all 9 TRLs occur very early in the technology life cycle My rough interpretation of TRLs: 1 – 3: Scientific research 4 – 6: Technology development 7 – 9: Product / System development 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

10 Defense Acquisition Definition of TRLs
Technology Readiness Level Description 1. Basic principles observed and reported. Lowest level of technology readiness. 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 application formulated. Invention begins. Once basic principles are 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 critical function and/or characteristic proof of concept. Active research and development is initiated. This includes analytical studies and laboratory studies to physically validate analytical predictions of separate elements of the technology. Examples include components that are not yet integrated or representative.

11 Defense Acquisition Definition of TRLs
Technology Readiness Level Description 4. Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment. Basic technological components are integrated to establish that they will work together. This is relatively "low fidelity" compared to the eventual system. Examples include integration of "ad hoc" hardware in the laboratory. 5. Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment. Fidelity of breadboard technology increases significantly. The basic technological 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 prototype demonstration in a relevant environment. Representative model or prototype system, which is well beyond that of TRL 5, is tested in a 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.

12 Defense Acquisition Definition of TRLs
Technology Readiness Level Description 7. System prototype demonstration in an operational environment. Prototype near, or at, planned operational 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 qualified through test and demonstration. Technology has been proven to work in its final form and under expected conditions. In 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 successful mission operations. Actual application of the technology in its final form and under mission conditions, such as those encountered in operational test and evaluation. Examples include using the system under operational mission conditions.

13 AFRL TRL Calculator Should ARIES use the 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.

14 Interoperability using an Integration Readiness Level
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

15 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?

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