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
- Driven the technology development of several projects including the design of over seven real-time robotic and mechatronic systems for diverse field and indoor applications.
- Managed robotic design, software development, strategic vision, and business model iteration in a start-up using an agile scrum methodology.
- Interviewed numerous candidates for technical and student roles using design, coding, and behavioural questions.
- Published more than 40 national and international conference and journal publications with more than 400 citations.
- Collaborated with engineers, researchers, cognitive scientists, industrial designers, neuroscientists, agronomists, farmers, computational modellers, and mathematicians.
- Coached elite martial arts athletes to international and national competitions.
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, trajectory control, electrical design, actuation, motor controllers, mechanisms, cognitive learning, mechanical design, 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
Robotics Expert; Robert Bosch Startup GmbH: Deepfield Robotics, 2016 – Current
- Using an agile scrum methodology to drive the technical development of agricultural robotic prototypes used for customer feedback and performance evaluation.
- Inspired a strategic vision backed by numerous business models and robot designs.
- Interviewed candidates for technical and student positions including phone screens and onsite meetings using design, coding, and behavioural interviews.
- Coded a trajectory and targeting controller for a delta robot manipulator for weeding.
- Presented our achievements at ROSCon2016 in Korea and InfoAg2016 in the USA.
- Organised and spoke at the “Agricultural Robotics: learning from Industry 4.0 and moving into the future” Workshop which was part of the IEEE/RSJ Intelligent Robotics and Systems (IROS) in 2017.
Senior Research Fellow, Chief Investigator; Queensland University of Technology, 2012 – 2016
- Led the technology development on the ARC Linkage Project “Robotics for Zero Tillage Agriculture” which resulted in a QUT Vice Chancellor Team Performance Award
- Demonstrated our project to the QLD State Premier which resulted in a follow on $3 million DAFF “Strategic Investment in Farm Robotics” project.
- The team automated a utility vehicle, designed a field robot and developed the technology for navigation, obstacle detection, localisation and docking which resulted in numerous journal and conference publications.
- Interviewed and mentored technical, PhD, and Masters positions.
- Unit coordinator for ENB458 Modern Control Systems (2012), and ENB329 Mechatronics Project 2 (2013-2015).
- Co-Organised the “Robotics in Agriculture” Workshop at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in 2015 which led to being invited to be an editor on the Journal of Field Robotics special issue on Agricultural Robotics.
Research Fellow and Technical Manager; 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.
- Developed the iRat – intelligent rat animat technology, which was used for numerous projects related to navigation, including, studies with real rodents at UCSD, research into cognitive representations, and to test the development of an open source version of a biologically inspired SLAM system.
- Led numerous student projects including the development of a new omni-directional drive mechanism which compared to other designs is continuous and isotropic, and an energy efficient mechanism for legged locomotion using parallel elastic elements.
- Collaborated with a range of researchers, including neuroscientists, mathematicians, modellers, and roboticists which resulted in several interdisciplinary publications.
- 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
- Designed the next generation of mission-critical embedded C/C++ communication software involving redundant Ethernet networking for reliable SIP calls within an RTOS.
Robot Systems, Software and Electrical Engineer; The University of Queensland, 2005
- Developed the software and electronics, including a trajectory controller, for a five degree of freedom robot arm for video screen manipulation for user engagement.
Robotics Tutor; The University of Queensland, 2002 – 2004
- Taught introductory robotics to hundreds of primary, high school, and undergraduate students inspiring them to take an interest in engineering and programming.
- Contributed to the technical organisation of state and national robotics RoboCup Junior competitions from 2002 – 2004.
Robotic Electrical Engineer Work Experience; CSIRO ICT Centre, 2000 – 2001
- Designed the electrical hardware and embedded software for a Puma robot arm.
Executive Member, Club Instructor, Tournament Director, Coach, Examiner; Bai Rui Taekwon-Do, 1994 – 2014
- Achieved Expert 4th Degree International Black Belt Instructor.
- Coached a team to a USA international tournament in 2011 where our team of 56 competitors won 72 medals (including 34 gold) and 4 of 5 grand champion medals.
- Awarded expert Instructor of the Year in 2010 and Black Belt of the Year in 1998
- Directed 20 national and international tournaments.
- Coached the elite fitness and tournament squad for over 10 years.
- Developed the open source Martial Arts Tournament System (MATS), an online system which has been used to manage over 20 national and international tournaments. Written using PHP, MySQL, PEAR and Smarty.
The University of Queensland, 2002 – 2008
- Postgraduate Degree (PhD) in Mechatronic Engineering
- Thesis Title—Adaptation by Prediction: Reading the Play in Robot Soccer
- Led the robotic development and travelled to the USA, Japan, Italy and Portugal for robot competitions where we achieved second place twice.
- RoboCup Senior Small Size Technical and Organising Committee and Chair 2005 – 2006
The University of Queensland, 1998 – 2001
- Bachelor of Computer Systems and Electrical Engineering with Mechatronics Minor
- First class honours
- Won the IEEE QLD Best Final Year Undergraduate Thesis in All Fields of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology in 2001
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