Readiness Levels (RLs)
Readiness Levels (RLs) are a systematic project metric/measurement system that supports assessments of the maturity of R&D projects from research to operation, application, commercial product or service, or other use and allows the consistent comparison of maturity between different types of R&D projects. (Note: NOAA RL's are similar to Technology Readiness Levels developed by NASA and embody the same concept for quantifying the maturity of research). The purpose of creating a single scale for all of NOAA is to encourage cross-disciplinary understanding of the challenges involved in developing an idea into something that serves a NOAA mission need.
A project achieves a readiness level once it has accomplished all elements described within a readiness level. A program may include projects at different RLs depending on the goals of each project. Inventions may be generated at any RL. The nine readiness levels are as follows:
RL 1: Basic research, experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundations of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view. Basic research can be oriented or directed towards some broad fields of general interest, with the explicit goal of a range of future applications (OECD, 2015).
RL 2: Applied research, original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge. It is, however, directed primarily towards a specific, practical aim or objective. Applied research is undertaken either to determine possible uses for the findings of basic research, or to determine new methods or ways of achieving specific and predetermined objectives (OECD, 2015).
RL 3: Proof-of-concept for system, process, product, service, or tool; this can be considered an early phase of experimental development; feasibility studies may be included.
RL 4: Successful evaluation of system, subsystem, process, product, service, or tool in a laboratory or other experimental environment; this can be considered an intermediate phase of development.
RL 5: Successful evaluation of system, subsystem process, product, service, or tool in relevant environment through testing and prototyping; this can be considered the final stage of development before demonstration begins.
RL 6: Demonstration of a prototype system, subsystem, process, product, service, or tool in relevant or test environment (potential demonstrated).
RL 7: Prototype system, process, product, service or tool demonstrated in an operational or other relevant environment (functionality demonstrated in near-real world environment; subsystem components fully integrated into system).
RL 8: Finalized system, process, product, service or tool tested, and shown to operate or function as expected within the user's environment; user training and documentation completed; operator or user approval given.
RL 9: System, process, product, service or tool deployed and used routinely.
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