International robotics expert and leader with experience as the primary driver behind development of a diverse portfolio of real-time autonomous robotic and mechatronic systems for field and indoor applications. Expertise in designing real-world autonomous navigation systems including multi-robot coordination, global path planning, trajectory planning, and vehicle motion control coupled to localisation and obstacle detection systems. Significant experience with agricultural robotics as demonstrated by leading technology development across multiple projects. Author of 40+ conference and journal publications with 400+ citations.
Platforms – Linux, Embedded, Android, Windows, Docker, web
Middleware – Robot Operating System (ROS), Gazebo, Player-stage, GLUT, OpenCV
Sensors – Cameras, Lidar, GNSS/GPS, INS, encoders
Actuation – Linear and rotary actuators from a few to thousands of watts
Interfaces – Ethernet UDP/TCP, CAN, serial, data and memory buses, wireless
Tools – Git (GitHub), Altium/Protel, SolidEdge, Subversion
Techniques – Mobile robot and manipulator design, navigation systems, multi-robot coordination, global path planning, trajectory planning, vehicle motion control, localisation, simulation, computer vision, SLAM, trajectory control, electrical design, actuation, mechanisms, cognitive learning, docking, testing
Robotics Expert; Robert Bosch Startup GmbH: Deepfield Robotics, 2016 – Current
- Used an agile scrum methodology to drive the technical development of agricultural robotic prototypes for testing with customers to gain feedback and evaluate performance.
- Co-led the derivation of a strategic vision for autonomous weed management coupled to business models and robot designs based on an evaluation of customer requirements, competitor performance, and current research.
- Coded a trajectory and targeting controller for a delta robot manipulator which destroyed weeds.
- Represented Deepfield at industry events and conferences and delivered presentations at ROSCon 2016 (Korea) and InfoAg 2016 (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.
- Conducted phone and on-site interviews with candidates for technical and student positions.
Senior Research Fellow, Chief Investigator; Queensland University of Technology, 2012 – 2016
- Earned the QUT Vice Chancellor Team Performance Award for leading the technology development on the Australian Research Council “Robotics for Zero Tillage Agriculture” AgBot project (link). Led the team that automated a utility vehicle, and developed the technology for navigation, obstacle detection, localisation and docking which resulted in numerous journal and conference publications.
- Demonstrated the AgBot to the QLD State Premier and received $3M for “Strategic Investment in Farm Robotics” SIFR (link). Served as Chief Investigator to design a vehicle for weed management.
- Mentored PhD and Masters students. Conducted technical interviews for SIFR.
- Instructed university courses Modern Control Systems (2012), and Mechatronics Project 2 (2013-2015).
- Co-organized the 2015 “Robotics in Agriculture” Workshop at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). The workshop’s success led to the editor of the Journal of Field Robotics requesting contribution to a special issue on agricultural robotics. Reviewed papers for publication.
Research Fellow and Technical Manager; The University of Queensland, 2008 – 2012
- Research fellow and technical manager on an Australian special research initiative “Thinking Systems” to investigate the role of navigation in real and conceptual spaces.
- Conceptualised and led development of the iRat (link) – intelligent Rat animat Technology – which was used for numerous projects related to navigation, including studies with rodents, research into cognitive map representations (link), and to test an open source version of a biologically inspired SLAM system (link).
- Led numerous student projects including the development of a new continuous and isotropic omnidirectional drive mechanism (link) and an energy efficient mechanism for legged locomotion using elastic elements (link).
- Collaborated with a range of researchers, including neuroscientists, mathematicians, modellers, and roboticists which resulted in several interdisciplinary publications.
- Instructed university courses METR4202 Advanced Control and Robotics (2010-2011), and 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
- Coached the elite fitness and tournament squad for over 10 years.
- Developed the Martial Arts Tournament System (MATS) (link), an online system I used as Director for over 20 national and international tournaments. Written using PHP, MySQL, 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
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
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.