Visual Communication System
The Visual Communication System (VCS) addresses communication needs specific to agricultural vehicle while harvesting tuber crops.  This innovation has been in development at the University of Idaho by undergraduate students for the past two years and is sponsored by the National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance (NCIIA).

This year’s team is picking up where last year’s team left off.  The basis of our goals is to produce a design which is ready for mass production after completing at least one more prototype.  We currently hold a provisional patent on the PCS idea and are still working on receiving the official patent (through the Idaho Research Foundation, Inc.).

The Situation
Anytime there is simultaneous harvesting and loading, the trucks are required to make position changes, relative to the combine, in order to fill uniformly. Truck drivers and combine operators rely on hand signals in order to communicate specific actions relating to the proper loading of the crop.

The problems that occur during this operation are:

  • The truck drivers can’t see what’s going on with the loading of the crop.
  • The harvester driver is performing many operations.
  • Dust storms and darkness prohibit any direct operator-to-operator visibility

Farmer's Complaints
Poor visibility conditions frustrate visual hand signal communication between the two moving vehicles. This incurs difficult and unsafe harvesting conditions.

The Solution
The VCS is a product that will improve the convenience and safety of harvesting tuber crops by replacing hand signals and CB radios with one complete visual communication device.

This Year’s Team

from left to right

Matt Hess, Ian Toevs, Veronica Meyer, Chris Jenson, Seth Elkington, Matt Shewmaker

View from harvester


Camera placement testing

View from camera