For a while, Quanergy has been making waves with their announcements about a $250 solid-state LiDAR unit for self-driving cars. There’s a new claim to the lowest price: Osram Opto Semiconductors just announced a LiDAR unit that is set to cost $50 at scale.
According to IEEE, Osram Opto uses an innovative approach to manufacturing their solid-state chips. They produce all the sensing diodes in one piece and then separate them. “That means they’re perfectly aligned from the get-go, with no need for after the fact fiddling. Each channel fires in sequence, so the returning signal can be matched to its source, thus enabling the system to add each petty piece of angular scope into an ensemble capable of sweeping a large vertical path.”
All technical talk aside, it seems to be a very cost-effective method.
The unit also uses technology from Innoluce, which uses a microelectromechanical array of tiny mirrors to direct lasers. With this tech, the unit will cover 120 degrees horizontally with 0.1 degrees resolution. IEEE reports that it will be able to detect cars from 200 meters away and pedestrians from 70 meters away.
Osram Opto’s technology will not be available until 2017, and even then it might not be available to us.
If we are able to buy these units, you can expect them to cost more than the prices quoted by Quanergy and Osram Opto. These numbers are only applicable for customers who purchase at scale. In other words, you won’t get a $50 LiDAR from Osram Opto, because you’re not BMW and you’re not buying your units in hundreds of thousands. That’s all to say that your solid-state professional LiDAR might be longer in coming than you think, and it will cost more than you hope. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a game-changer.