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
Broad range of experience.
- Current roles: product and robot design, strategic vision, technology adviser, interviewing, ‘scrum’ leader, international speaker, coder and student adviser.
- Experience working in a startup mode which involves iterating on robotic design and business strategy based on customer response and technical performance.
- Broad interpersonal and organisational skills from leadership roles in industry and research, managing own small business, coaching elite teams, lecturing, international technical and organisation committees, experience working in Australia and Germany.
- Able to develop real-time mechatronic systems for challenging domains while under pressure.
- National and international conference and journal publications, awards and grants.
- Collaborations with engineers, researchers, cognitive scientists, industrial designers, neuroscientists, agronomists, farmers, computational modellers and mathematicians.
Broad range of technical skills.
- Targets – Linux, embedded (Freescale, Motorola, Atmel, Microchip), Android, Windows, Docker, web.
- Middleware/software – ROS, Player-stage, GLUT, OpenCV, Gazebo, large code bases.
- Sensors – Cameras, lasers, GNSS, INS, encoders.
- Robotics – robot design, navigation, path planning, computer vision, control, SLAM, localisation, multi-robot coordination, arm design and control, electrical design, actuation, motor controllers, mechanisms, cognitive learning, mechanical design, and docking systems.
- Actuation – Linear and rotary actuators from a few to thousands of watts.
- Communication – Ethernet UDP/TCP, CAN, synchronous and asynchronous serial, data and memory buses, wireless.
- Tools – git (GitHub), (other) Altium/Protel, SolidEdge, svn
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.
Robotics Expert; Robert Bosch Startup GmbH: Deepfield Robotics, 2016 – Current
- Accelerating the transformation from conventional to organic farming using robotics.
- Variety of roles such as product and robot design, technology advisor, recruitment, ‘scrum’ leader, international presenter, coder and student advisor.
- Development of the technology for sensing and weed management in agricultural fields with mobile robots.
Senior Research Fellow; Queensland University of Technology, 2012 – 2016
- Chief Investigator on the $3 million DAFF “Strategic Investment in Farm Robotics” project working on vehicle design and weed management.
- Previously a postdoctoral research fellow on the ARC Linkage Project “Robotics for Zero Tillage Agriculture” where our team automated a utility vehicle and developed technology for navigation, obstacle detection, localisation and docking.
- QUT Vice Chancellor Team Performance Award 2013 for Agricultural Robotics.
- Unit coordinator for ENB458 Modern Control Systems (2012), and ENB329 Mechatronics Project 2 (2013-2015).
Research Fellow; The University of Queensland, 2008 – 2012
- Research fellow and technical manager on the ARC SRI project Thinking Systems, which investigated the role of navigation in real and conceptual spaces.
- Collaboration 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).
- Awarded a $12 thousand UQ New Staff Research Start-up fund, “A novel elastic joint for the next generation of legged locomotion.”
Design Engineer; Zetron, 2007-2008
- Experience with developing mission critical communication embedded C/C++ software.
- Redundant Ethernet networking for reliable SIP calls within an RTOS.
Robot Systems, Software and Electrical Engineer; The University of Queensland, 2005
- Simulation and implementation of systems, software and electronics including trajectory controller for a five degree of freedom robot arm monitor manipulator.
Robotics Tutor; The University of Queensland, 2002 – 2004
- Taught introductory robotics to primary, high school, and undergraduate students.
- Helped run national robotics competitions.
Robotic Electrical Engineer Work Experience; CSIRO ICT Centre, 2000 – 2001
- Designed electrical hardware and embedded software for a Puma robot arm as work experience.
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
- Organiser and speaker for “Agricultural Robotics: learning from Industry 4.0 and moving into the future” IEEE/RSJ Intelligent Robotics and Systems (IROS) 2017
- Organiser for “Robotics in Agriculture” IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2015
Reviewer and Program Committee Roles
- Journal of Field Robotics (JFR). Editor for special issue on Agricultural Robotics
- Australian Conference on Robotics and Automation (ACRA)
- International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)
- International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)
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, P. Milani, D. Richards, A. Bate, B. Upcroft, G. Wyeth, P. Corke (2017) “Farm Workers of the Future: Vision-Based Robotics for Broad-Acre Agriculture”, IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, 2017.
- D. Ball, A. English, P. Ross, T. Patten, R. Fitch, S. Sukkarieh, A. Bate, B. Upcroft, G. Wyeth, P Corke (2016) “Vision-based obstacle detection and navigation for an agricultural robot”, Journal of Field Robotics.
- 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