Could this be the order-of-magnitude cost drop that enables self-driving cars? Osram has announced a lidar chipset that will sell for less than $50 in volume. Lidar is what’s in the scanners that create a map of the surroundings as you drive: curbs, medians, signs, other cars, pedestrians, and animals. Osram declares it’s “a milestone for laser sensors in self-driving cars” because of the price and reliability from a device with no moving parts.Test samples will be available in early 2017. Production quantities will arrive in 2018. The unit will be small enough to fit behind the front grille, rather than atop the roof.Scanning lidar module (source: Osram Opto Semiconductors)Four channels, no moving partsOsram Opto Semiconductors of Germany announced the four-channel lidar last week at the Electronica 2016 trade show in Munich. The system comprises a laser bar using four individually controllable laser diodes and control circuitry surface mounted on a single module. As mentioned above, this is the first lidar unit for self-driving assistance that has no moving parts, which Osram declares a breakthrough.