Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA)


A technology readiness assessment (TRA) examines program concepts, technology requirements, and demonstrated technology capabilities in order to determine technological maturity.


Assessment of your technology can be determined based on the guidance provided in Chapter 10 of the Defense Acquisition Guidebook. The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) table below is extracted from the Guidebook. The Guidebook URL is at (as of 31 October 2007)\IG_c10.5.2.asp


A TRA can be very useful for describing the status of a technology project, such as a senior design project, Masters thesis project, PhD Dissertation project, or a sponsored research project. It can be applied to hardware, software, or a combination thereof.


Here is the recommended way to use the TRL table.


(a) When you first propose your project, decide on the starting TRL and the final TRL. For example, most projects will start at TRL-1 (paper study reviewing existing related projects). Many academic projects, including senior design, will end at TRL-5 ("The basic technological components are integrated with reasonably realistic supporting elements so it can be tested in a simulated environment.")


(b) On your project planning chart (e.g., Gantt chart), designate the TR levels as milestones. In other words, indicate the dates at which succeeding TR levels will be achieved.


(c) As the project proceeds, track your project through the various TR levels, and compare with your plan.


(d) At each regular project meeting, indicate where your project stands on the TRL chart, and what is required to get to the next level.







Technology Readiness Level


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.

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.

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.