What is the purpose of TRLs?

Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) are a tool for assessing the maturity and readiness of a technology for its intended application. TRLs can help technology developers, investors, customers, and regulators to communicate and manage expectations, risks, and opportunities associated with different stages of technology development.

TRLs were originally developed by NASA in the 1970s to measure the maturity of space exploration technologies. Since then, TRLs have been adopted and adapted by various industries and organizations, such as the European Union, the US Department of Defense, and TWI. TRLs are based on a scale from 1 to 9, with 1 being the lowest and 9 being the highest level of maturity.

The purpose of TRLs is to provide a common language and framework for describing the status and progress of a technology from its initial concept to its full deployment and operation. TRLs can help to:

  • Identify gaps and challenges in technology development and integration.
  • Evaluate the feasibility and viability of technology solutions
  • Plan and prioritize research and development activities and resources
  • Monitor and track technology development milestones and achievements
  • Compare and benchmark different technologies and approaches
  • Support decision-making and risk management for technology adoption and implementation.

TRLs are not meant to be prescriptive or rigid but rather flexible and adaptable to different contexts and domains. TRLs are not a substitute for detailed technical analysis or validation but rather a complement. TRLs are not a guarantee of success or failure but rather an indicator of potential and readiness.

TRLs can be applied to various types of technologies, such as products, processes, systems, or services. TRLs can also be applied to different aspects or components of a technology, such as hardware, software, data, or human factors. TRLs can be assessed at different levels of granularity or aggregation, depending on the scope and purpose of the assessment.

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TRLs are typically assessed using qualitative and quantitative criteria, such as literature review, expert judgment, experimental data, simulation results, demonstration outcomes, customer feedback, etc. TRLs are usually determined by using a consensus-based approach among relevant stakeholders, such as technology developers, users, customers, regulators, etc.

TRLs are not static or fixed but rather dynamic and evolving. TRLs can change over time as new information or evidence becomes available or as new requirements or challenges emerge. TRLs can also vary depending on the perspective or context of the assessment. For example, a technology at TRL 9 for one application or market may be at a lower TRL for another application or market.

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