Current activities (last few years) at different laboratories, towards the development of a laser wakefield accelerator (LWFA) are reviewed, followed by a more in depth discussion of results obtained at the L'OASIS laboratory of LBNL. Recent results on laser guiding of relativistically intense beams in preformed plasma channels are discussed. The observation of mono-energetic beams in the 100 MeV energy range, produced by a channel guided LWFA at LBNL, is described and compared to results obtained in the unguided case at LOA, RAL and LBNL. Analysis, aided by particle-in-cell simulations, as well as experiments with various plasma lengths and densities, indicate that tailoring the length of the accelerator has a very beneficial impact on the electron energy distribution. Progress on laser triggered injection is reviewed. Results are presented on measurements of bunch duration and emittance of the accelerated electron beams, that indicate the possibility of generating femtosecond duration electron bunches. Future challenges and plans towards the development of a 1 GeV LWFA module are discussed.