David Ball is currently designing robotic solutions for agriculture at Robot Bosch Startup GmbH – Deepfield Robotics in Stuttgart, Germany. Previously he was a Senior Research Fellow at the Queensland University Technology in Australia working on robotic solutions for agriculture. In 2013 his team was awarded the QUT Vice Chancellor Team Performance Award for Agricultural Robotics. He was a chief investigator on a $3 million QLD DAF “Strategic Investment in Farm Robotics” project. He completed his undergraduate degree in Computer Systems Engineering in 2001 and his PhD titled “Reading the Play: Adaptation by prediction in robot soccer” in Mechatronic Engineering in 2008, both at the University of Queensland. He then worked at Zetron helping to design the next generation of mission-critical radio infrastructure. His first research position was on an Australian Special Research Initiative, Thinking Systems, a highly cross-disciplinary team which investigated navigation across real and conceptual spaces. He has lectured various university units covering design, control, perception and robotics.
Highlights of Qualifications
- Experience with startups – pivoting on robotic design and business development based on customer response. CTO, scrum master, joint project leader, business development roles.
- Practical experience collaborating with and leading teams to develop complex real-time mechatronic systems for challenging domains while under pressure.
- Experience with systems engineering across: software, control, electronics, and mechanical.
- 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.
- 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.
Awards and Grants
- $3 million QLD DAFF “Strategic Investment in Farm Robotics”.
- $12 thousand UQ New Staff Research Startup Fund “A novel elastic joint for the next generation of legged locomotion”.
- QUT Vice Chancellor Team Performance Award 2013 for Agricultural Robotics.
- Winner of the IEEE QLD Best Final Year Undergraduate Thesis in All Fields of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology in 2001.
Senior Robotics Engineer @ Bosch Startup Platform – Deepfield Robotics GmbH, 2016 – current
- Research and development of strategic approach and technical design for a robotic solution for agriculture using startup principles.
- Joint leadership of project, scrum master, CTO roles.
Senior Research Fellow @ Queensland University of Technology, 2012 – 2016
- Chief Investigator and Senior Research Fellow on a $3 million DAFF “Strategic Investment in Farm Robotics” grant.
- Postdoctoral research fellow on the highly successful ARC Linkage Project “Robotics for Zero Tillage Agriculture” also known as the AgBot project.
- Unit coordinator for ENB458 Modern Control Systems (2012), and ENB329 Mechatronics Project 2 (2013-2014).
Research Fellow @ The University of Queensland, 2008 – 2012
- Research fellow and technical manager on the ARC SRI project Thinking Systems, which is investigating the role of navigation in real and conceptual spaces.
- Collaborating with a broad range of researchers, including neuroscientists, mathematicians, computational modellers, and roboticists across many projects.
- Course coordinator for METR4202 Advanced Control and Robotics (2010-2011), and co-lecturer for METR3800 Mechatronics System Design II (2010).
Design Engineer @ Zetron, 2007-2008
- Experience with developing mission critical communication embedded C/C++ software.
Robotics Engineer @ The University of Queensland, 2005
- Simulation and implementation of systems, software and hardware including trajectory controller for a five degree of freedom robot arm monitor manipulator.
Robotics Tutor @ The University of Queensland, 2002 – 2004
- Teaching introductory robotics to primary, high school, and undergraduate students.
Robotic Student Engineer @ CSIRO ICT Centre, 2000 – 2001
- Summer vacation work designing electrical hardware for a Puma robot arm.
Postgraduate Degree (PhD) in Mechatronic Engineering @ The University of Queensland, 2002 – 2008
- Thesis Title: Adaptation by Prediction: Reading the Play in Robot Soccer
Bachelor of Computer Systems and Electrical Engineering with Mechatronics Minor @ The University of Queensland, 1998 – 2001
- First class honours
Hillbrook High School, 1993 – 1997
- Overall Position 1
Ferny Grove State School
- Male School Captain
Reviewer and Program Committee Roles
- Australian Conference on Robotics and Automation (ACRA)
- International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)
- International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)
- Journal of Field Robotics (JFR) Editor for special issue on agricultural robotics.
- Program committee for workshops on agricultural robotics (ICRA 2015, IROS 2017)
RoboCup Senior Robot Soccer Committee
- RoboCup Senior 2005 Small Size Technical and Organising Committee.
- RoboCup Senior 2006 Small Size Technical Committee Chair.
- RoboCup Junior Local Organiser for the State and National Competition 2002 – 2004
(Inactive) Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Executive Member, Club Instructor, Tournament Director, Coach @ Bai Rui Taekwon-Do, 1994 – 2014
- Training since 1994 and an expert 4th Degree International Black Belt Instructor.
- Awarded Black Belt of the Year in 1998 and Expert Instructor of the Year in 2010.
Available upon request.
A complete list is available from my Google scholar page.
- D. Ball, P. Ross, A. English, T. Patten, B. Upcroft, R. Fitch, S. Sukkarieh, G. Wyeth, P Corke, (2013) “Robotics for Zero Tillage Agriculture”, International Conference on Field and Service Robotics (FSR), Brisbane, Australia.
- D Ball, R Kliese, F Windels, C Nolan, P Stratton, P Sah, J Wiles, “Rodent Scope: A User-Configurable Digital Wireless Telemetry System for Freely Behaving Animals”, PLOS ONE, 2014
- D Ball, S Heath, J Wiles, G Wyeth, P Corke and M Milford, “OpenRatSLAM: an open source brain-based SLAM system”,Autonomous Robots, 2013.
- D Ball, P Ross, J Wall and R Chow, “A novel energy efficient controllable stiffness joint”, International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2013.
- S Heath, D Ball, R Schulz, J Wiles, “Communication between Lingodroids with different cognitive capabilities”, International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2013.
- G Taylor, T Luu, D Ball, M Srinivasan, “Vision and air flow combine to streamline flying honeybees”, Scientific reports 3, Nature Publishing Group, 2013
- A. English, P. Ross, D. Ball, P. Corke, (2014) “Vision Based Guidance for Robot Navigation in Agriculture”, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Hong Kong, China.
- P. Ross, A. English, D. Ball, B. Upcroft, P. Corke (2015) “Online novelty-based visual obstacle detection for field robotics”, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). Seattle, USA