Home 2017-10-31T12:46:15+00:00

About

I lead teams to design and create robotic and autonomous systems. I currently work at Deepfield Robotics, part of Robert Bosch Startup GmbH, which prototypes robotic technology and business models for agriculture. At Deepfield I have a variety of roles such as product design, technology advisor, business development, recruitment, scrum leader, international speaking, coder and student advisor.

I have extensive experience with indoor and field robots and in the last 17 years have worked across the broad spectrum of robotics including navigation, path planning, computer vision, control, simulation, SLAM, localisation, multi-robot coordination, mechanical design, arm design, electrical design, actuation, mechanisms, communication, cognitive learning, and docking systems. Along the way I’ve collaborated with engineers, cognitive scientists, industrial designers, neuroscientists, agronomists, computational modellers and mathematicians.

It is important to inspire and educate the next generation of engineers which I have done as a university lecturer, and undergraduate and postgraduate engineering and research advisor. More details are here.

I’ve had substantial success as a Bai Rui Taekwon-Do instructor and coach. In 10+ years of instructing I helped 25 students reach Black Belt, coached successful teams to a national and international tournament, ran an elite fitness squad and was the tournament director for more than 20 national and international events.

My homeland is Australia, although I currently live in Stuttgart, Germany with my partner Ruth Schulz and my daughters Sophie and Penny Ball.

Portfolio

2017-10-24T21:09:50+00:00

Robotics for Zero-Tillage Agriculture (AgBot)

Farmers are under growing pressure to increase production to feed a growing population, while at the same time considering environmental impact and constraints on land, water and labour. The increasingly larger farm machines cause significant soil compaction damage and are a single point of failure. Hence, in this project we [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:49+00:00

Automated field testing

Seed breeding is a critical part of agriculture and ensures food security through the development of new crop varieties that are higher-yielding, disease and drought resistant and adapted for each region. Best practise is to have breeders measure and record traits across a large number of seed trials. However, it [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:58+00:00

iRat – Intelligent Rat animat technology

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The iRat (intelligent Rat animat Technology) is a rat animat robot designed for robotic and neuroscience teams as a tool for studies in navigation, embodied cognition, and neuroscience research. The rat animat has capabilities comparable to the (then) popular standard Pioneer DX robots, but is an order of magnitude smaller [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:50+00:00

RoboRoos – Robot Soccer

The RoboRoos Robot Soccer team competed in the Small Size League of the annual RoboCup competitions. The goal of the RoboCup federation is "By the year 2050, develop a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots that can win against the human world soccer champion team."  The rules are similar to the [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:50+00:00

Strategic Investment in Farm Robotics (SIFR)

This project is fast-tracking robotic technology for farms. Its purpose is to reinvigorate agriculture through increased production and reduced costs. Such technology can be used to conduct autonomous multi-vehicle operations in applications of weed management, fertilising, and seeding. The use of multiple, cost-effective field robots can enable alternative weed destruction [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:52+00:00

Martial Arts Tournament System (MATS)

The Martial Arts Tournament System (MATS) is a complete open-source system to manage the running of a tournament. MATS' features include: online registration for coaches, tools for divisioning, entering and printing various results. support for a broad range of division types including: sparring, patterns, round robin, special techniques, power breaking, and [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:52+00:00

SAParm

aka Robot Arm for Video Screen Manipulation The goal of the SAParm Project was to produce a proof-of-concept robotic video conferencing system to convey gestures of a remote conference participant. It could mimic human gestures such as nodding and shaking its head; show interest or strong feeling by moving forward; and [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:52+00:00

Skippy the robot kangaroo

 aka energy efficient legged locomotion The goal of this project was to create a new generation of legged robots that can traverse over rugged terrain in an energy-efficient manner. The team designed and tested a new energy efficient joint mechanism suitable for the robot’s knee. In particular, the joint’s stiffness [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:52+00:00

Spherical Continuous Isotropic Omni Drive Robot

Robots comprised of an omni directional drive system have a distinct kinematic and mobility advantage over the standard differential drive and Ackermann (car-like) drive. In this project we designed an omni directional drive robot with very high mobility that can negotiate typical edge and gap traversal obstacles in an indoor environment. It is [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:52+00:00

LingoDroids

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Lingodroids are language learning robots that play games to construct shared lexicons. These fascinating mobile robots have learnt lexicons for places, distances, directions, and time. Our latest work demonstrates how to handle referential uncertainty, that is, how to resolve a word’s meaning between multiple candidates. Further, we have demonstrated language [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:55+00:00

Insect environment replication

Scientists are trying to understand insect behaviour. To assist we developed a virtual world for Bees. This virtual world consisted of up to six monitors surrounding the Bee along with a controllable platform. We have a virtual display running across up to six monitors @ 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz. [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:55+00:00

Rodent Scope – A wireless telemetry system for animals

Extracellular recordings in animals, made using wire implants within the brain, detect changes in the extracellular voltage when neurons discharge. Typically, electrophysiologists tether their rodent to their neural recording equipment which limits the range of possible experiments. In this project we designed a digital wireless neural telemetry system, Rodent Scope [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:56+00:00

Spike Time Robotics

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In this study a spiking network controls the iRat in real time. The study demonstrates how the neural controller directs the rat animat’s movement towards temporal stimuli of the appropriate frequency using an approach based on Braitenberg Vehicles. The circuit responds robustly after four cycles when first detecting a light [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:56+00:00

Rat meets iRat

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Rats have long since been used in a wide range of behavioral studies. This project is ongoing work to use the iRat as modeling platform for neuroscience studies, for testing neural models of bio-inspired navigation algorithms and for behavioral studies showing rat-robot interactions. Many of the rats observed the iRat, peeping [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:56+00:00

A Rat in the Browser

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A telerobot, is a telepresence device that allows a user to interact with a robot over the internet. There are few active public telerobots on the internet. This work describes a new Internet telerobot framework suitable for autonomous mobile robots and designed for user edutainment. Users could give the robot navigation [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:55+00:00

OpenRatSLAM

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OpenRatSLAM, is an open-source C++ (ROS / OpenCV) and MATLAB version of RatSLAM. RatSLAM is a robot SLAM system based on the neural processes underlying navigation in the rodent brain, in particular the hippocampus.

2017-10-24T21:09:50+00:00

Reading the Play – Adaptation by Prediction

My PhD thesis project was “Reading the Play – Adaptation by Prediction”.  The basis for the approach was akin to an elite sports player being able to "read the play", allowing for decisions to be made based on predictions of likely future outcomes. Using Markov chains we could model the [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:49+00:00

RoIP Mission-Critical Communication

RoIP or Radio over IP is Zetron's next generation network for mission-critical communication gear. For reliability IP systems can be designed for multiple redundancies, especially by spoofing Ethernet switches with ARP packets. This can allow seamless failover of voice calls over IP devices. Zetron, a subsidiary of JVC Kenwood Corporation, designs mission-critical [...]

2017-10-24T21:09:56+00:00

Blind Bayes

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aka Maintaining a Cognitive Map in Darkness: The Need to Fuse Boundary Knowledge with Path Integration The iRat was used in one of Allen Cheung's studies to find out if animals need "cognitive maps". From the abstract: "Spatial navigation requires the processing of complex, disparate and often ambiguous sensory data. The [...]

CV

Highlights of Qualifications

  • Experience with startup culture, iterating on robotic design and business development based on customer response and technical performance. I take on various roles such as product design, technology advisor, business development, recruitment, scrum leader, international speaking roles, coder and student advisor.
  • Practical experience collaborating with and leading teams to develop complex real-time mechatronic systems (software, control, electronics, and mechanical) for challenging domains while under pressure.
  • Awards and grants such as the “QUT Vice Chancellor Team Performance Award for Agricultural Robotics” and was a chief investigator on a $3 million QLD DAF “Strategic Investment in Farm Robotics” project.
  • Significant interpersonal and organisational skills from: team leader roles, ten years of running own business, and domestic and international technical and organisation committees.
  • Numerous technical skills pertinent to a wide range of robotics and enjoy getting hands on to build working demonstrations.
    • Targets – Linux, Docker, embedded (Freescale, Motorola, Atmel, Microchip), Android, Windows, web.
    • Middleware/software – ROS, Player-stage, GLUT, OpenCV, large code bases.
    • Languages – (advanced) C/C++, (other) Python, Javascript (NodeJS), (previously) MATLAB, PHP, Java
    • Sensors – Cameras, lasers, GNSS, INS, encoders.
    • Robot experience – navigation, path planning, perception, control, SLAM, localisation, multi-robot coordination, mechanical design, arm design and control, electrical design, actuation, mechanisms, communication, cognitive learning, and docking systems.
    • Actuation – Linear and rotary actuators from a few to thousands of watts.
    • Tools – Altium, git, (previously) SolidEdge, svn
    • Collaborations – Engineers, cognitive scientists, industrial designers, neuroscientists, agronomists, computational modellers and mathematicians.

Full CV and Bio available here.

Contact

For work related enquires please use DavidMichael.Ball@de.bosch.com

For personal email please use david@davidmichaelball.com