Garmin Ltd. acquired the assets of Ikubu (Pty) Ltd., a privately-held South African software engineering company that is developing a low energy radar system to help cyclists avoid collisions with vehicles.

Ikubu was in the final stages of developing the Backtracker low-energy bike radar, a device that provides situational awareness by giving the cyclist the speed and distance of vehicles that are approaching from behind. The road is scanned by a rear-facing radar module that also doubles as a dynamically flashing caution light, and the information is sent wirelessly to a handlebar-mounted head unit.

“Ikubu has found a way to implement short-range radar into a low-power system that addresses a common concern among cyclists – identifying potential hazards that are approaching them from behind,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin’s president and CEO. 

The deal was announced a week after POC, Volvo and Ericsson demonstrated a prototype of a collision avoidance system at CES in Las Vegas. That system uses head up displays and smart phones  to help  cyclists and motorists detect each other and avoid collisions. POC, which is owned by Black Diamond Inc., is currently launching  its first helmet for road cyclists. The Swedish company already makes helmets and other protective gear for skiers and mountain bikers.

Most of Ikubu employees will become employees of Garmin’s existing subsidiary in South Africa and continue to work  at IKubu's location in an industrial park in Stellenbosch that will operate primarily as an R&D center. Financial terms of the acquisition will not be released.

“Garmin gives us the resources to develop, bring to market, and showcase our products that we otherwise would not have,” said Franz Struwig, managing director of Ikubu.