HRL Laboratories

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HRL Laboratories, LLC
Formerly called
Hughes Research Laboratories
Founded Culver City, CA 1940s (1940s)
Founder Howard Hughes
Headquarters 34°02′35″N 118°41′45″W / 34.04292°N 118.69577°W / 34.04292; -118.69577, Malibu, CA, US
Parent General Motors Company and Boeing

HRL Laboratories (formerly Hughes Research Laboratories), was the research arm of Hughes Aircraft. It is a dedicated research center, established in 1960, in Malibu. Currently owned by General Motors Corporation and Boeing, the research facility is housed in two large, white multi-story buildings overlooking the Pacific Ocean.


In the 1940s, Howard Hughes created a R&D facility in Culver City, California; by 1960, it moved to Malibu, California. In 1984 the U.S. Federal Courts declared in a court case that the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, in order to retain its non-profit status, must divest itself of Hughes Aircraft Company and subsidiaries. General Motors purchased Hughes Aircraft in 1985. GM sold the Hughes aerospace and defense operations to Raytheon in 1997, and spun off Hughes Research Laboratories (legally renamed "HRL Laboratories, LLC"), with GM and Raytheon as co-owners. GM sold the Hughes satellite operations to Boeing in 2000, and the co-owners became Boeing, GM, and Raytheon. In 2007, Raytheon decided to sell its stake, though it still maintains research and contractual relations with HRL. For more details, please see Hughes Aircraft. HRL receives funding from its LLC partners, US defense contracts, and other commercial customers.

HRL focuses on advanced developments in microelectronics, information & systems sciences, materials, sensors, and photonics; their workspace spans from basic research to product delivery. It has particularly emphasized capabilities in high performance integrated circuits, high power lasers, antennas, networking, and smart materials.

Despite downsizing during the aerospace industry's contraction of the 1990s, HRL still continues to be the largest employer in Malibu.

Notable accomplishments[edit]

  • The first working model of the laser was created at Hughes Research Laboratories in 1960 by Theodore Maiman (1927–2007).
  • HRL began research on atomic clocks in 1959. In the late 1970s they produced experimental maser oscillators for NRL, which eventually led to space-based GPS atomic clocks.
  • HRL began research on ion propulsion in 1960.[1] This research led to the Hughes developed xenon ion propulsion system (XIPSTM). XIPS was used as the primary propulsion system on NASA's Deep Space 1 (launched in 1998). It is a standard option for primary stationkeeping on the Hughes/Boeing 601HP (first use: PAS-5, 1997) and the 702 (first use: Galaxy-XI, 1999) geostationary satellite families.
  • HRL claims to have developed the liquid crystal watch in 1975.
  • HRL SyNAPSE neuromorphic chip is first chip to learn like the brain by altering synapses (listed as one of MIT Tech Review top ten breakthrough technologies) (2010’s).
  • Developed world’s largest most biologically accurate, integrated computational model of 9 brain systems underlying emergent sensemaking (2010’s).
  • CNN Top Ten DARPA Technologies (Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System), the world’s first “cognitive-neural” binocular threat-detection technology (2010’s)
  • Developed “MagicNet,” a fast pattern matching method using time-delay neural networks that is 2X faster than the 30 year state-of-the-art DFA methods (2010’s)
  • Designed and built world’s 1st reconfigurable spatially immersive display system (90’s).
  • First hybrid satellite-wireless ad hoc network (90’s)
  • First stabilized outdoor augmented reality system (90’s).
  • HRL developed the metallic microlattice, the world's lightest material, in 2011[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ion Propulsion - Over 50 Years in the Making". NASA. 
  2. ^ TA Schaedler; AJ Jacobsen; A Torrents; AE Sorensen; J Lian; JR Greer; L Valdevit; WB Carter (18 November 2011). "Ultralight Metallic Microlattices". Science. 334 (6058). pp. 962–965. doi:10.1126/science.1211649. 

External links[edit]