The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program focuses on high-risk, high-reward research that fills the gap between basic research and applied research or development. It also supports the development of transformative research tools that can accelerate the process of developing solutions for highway-related challenges. In fulfilling these missions, the EAR Program identified a need for a system for describing the maturity of highway research products. Such a system would allow experts and nonexperts to (1) document and communicate the maturity of the research at a specific point in time; (2) understand how their research might relate to other research; and (3) know what steps might advance the maturity of a given research product. The Volpe Center developed the Technology Readiness Level for Highway Research (TRL-H) scale with these capabilities in mind.
The TRL-H is a set of questions designed to measure progress of a highway-related technology toward maturity. It is based on a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale originally developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and later adapted by other Federal agencies, notably the Department of Defense. The original TRL scale measured the position of a technology on a path that starts with basic scientific principles and ends with a mission-deployed system or piece of hardware.
The revised TRL-H scale assesses a technology in terms of certain characteristics, as measured by successful tests. The scale considers two aspects of the completed tests:
- How complete was the technology when it was tested? Was it a paper-and-pen concept, a system of equations, a component, a subsystem, or the complete system?
How representative was the test environment?
- Was it a desktop computer simulation, a controlled laboratory experiment, a demonstration at a proving ground, or a real-world test?
- How similar was the tester to the ultimate technology user? Was the tester the developer of the technology, another expert in the field, or a user with no more specific knowledge than the typical technology user?
The TRL-H project was completed in September 2014, and the EAR Program has begun using the scale in Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) panels for selected projects in progress and nearing completion.
|TRL||Description||To achieve the given TRL, you must answer yes to EVERY question. Discuss any uncertain answers.|
|Basic Research||1||Basic principles and research||
|3||Proof of concept||
|Applied Research||4||Components validated in laboratory environment||
|5||Integrated components demonstrated in a laboratory environment||
|Development||6||Prototype demonstrated in relevant environment||
|7||Prototype demonstrated in operational environment||
|8||Technology proven in operational environment||
|9||Technology refined and adopted||