Technical Readiness Level

Technical Readiness Level

What’s a TRL? Technical readiness levels represent a scale for estimating the development of technologies throughout the life of a project. This system was developed by NASA in the 1970s as a way to stimulate “consistent, uniform discussions” about the level of maturity for a range of technologies. Agencies such as NASA and the DoD base funding or licensing agreements based on a project’s respective TRL.

To define the level of a technology, a TRA (technology readiness assessment) must be completed. In this assessment, examiners consider program concepts, technology requirements, and demonstrated capabilities of the technology. The TRL scale begins at 1, where a technology is deemed least mature, to 9, most mature.

How mature is your technology?


At this level, rudimentary research has begun and the findings are guiding the direction of future research and development. Basic principles are observed and reported.


Practical applications of the technology are now clearly linked to the initial research results. The technology at this point is very abstract with limited evidence that the technology will work. Technology concept and/or application formulated.


In this stage, design has begun and research is evolving. Agencies would like to see that the technology is likely viable. Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof-of-concept.


Different elements are now being testing together. Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment.


Continuing with the process occurring in TRL 4, this level is where the technology is tested more thoroughly and replications are now conducted in realistic environments. Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment.


A prototype is complete. System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment (ground or space).


The prototype has advanced and is now being tested in its planned operational environment. System prototype demonstration in an operational environment.


Development is complete and tests are conducted to conclude whether or not the technology meets design specifications. Innovation works in expected conditions. Actual system completed and qualified through test and demonstration.


Technology is now being applied to its intended mission in working condition. Actual system proven through successful mission operations.

*print in bold come from the exact definition as defined by the DoD

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