Innovation That Matters

Radar sensor for cyclists keeps tabs on dangerous traffic from behind

Work & Lifestyle

South Africa's Backtracker is a device that aims to save cyclists' lives by letting them know of dangerous traffic coming from behind.

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Cyclists are always advised to keep a clear distance from motorized traffic whenever they can to reduce the chances of collision, but it’s difficult to know when cars from behind are in danger of coming too close. While Japan’s Safety Sight app already warns drivers if they’re heading too quickly towards another vehicle, a new device called Backtracker now aims to save cyclists’ lives by letting them know of dangerous traffic coming from behind.

Developed by South Africa-based radar and computer vision company iKubu, the system comes in two parts — a front unit and a back unit. The back unit uses radar technology to detect the presence of moving objects up to 150 yards away. It sends information to the front unit attached to the handlebars, which is displayed via a strip of LEDs. When there’s no traffic, the device shows a green LED at the top of the strip, representing the cyclist. The presence of a car is indicated by a white light which gradually moves upwards along the strip, and the green light turns yellow. If a car is detected as moving towards the cyclist at a dangerous speed, the green light turns red and the white light will move more quickly. The device gives cyclists time to maneuver into a safer position to alert the driver of their presence or to let them past. The back unit additionally features flashing red LED lights that blink more quickly as the car approaches, attracting the attention of the driver.

Watch the video below to see Backtracker in action:

According to the company, some 40 percent of all cycling fatalities are the result of being hit from behind by a car, and Backtracker helps both riders and drivers stay more aware of their proximity. iKubu is currently raising funds for the device via Dragon Innovation, where the product is available to pre-order from USD 199. Are there other ways to equip bikes with technology that can keep riders safe?



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