Trying to see if my idea is able to be realized, or if I am just dreaming.

I've had an idea in my head a while now for a backpack with four servo (and/or hydraulic) arms that could be used to do things for the user. At first I was unsure of its practicality, due to the fact that the user would need a controller or something to control the arms. That was, however, until I discovered EEG technology. I see some EEG headsets like the Emotiv Epoc are able to detect things like eyebrow raises, eye blinks, etc.. This gets me thinking about using an EEG headset to control the arms. I am new to the technology though and am unsure how EEG headsets could be combined with Arduino (the board that would be running the servos on the arms), though I did purchase a book about using the Neurosky Mindwave headset to control an arduino rover. I expect to have some money soon, and will probably purchase said headset to experiment with. I know that with a complex headset like the Epoc, and possibly a combination of muscle sensors, I could control the servos with (hopefully) my own thoughts and facial expressions, but I need to know if this all is even possible. I am sure an intelligent person could figure it out easily, but I am in 9th grade and for that I have a VERY low budget. I am just looking for some suggestions, tips, thoughts, etc. on this idea. Anything will be greatly appreciated.

Spend your time getting good grades for college, find an engineering school doing projects like this.

CrossRoads: Spend your time getting good grades for college, find an engineering school doing projects like this.

I plan on going to Virginia Tech, so that should be a great help for me. I do want to educate myself on robotics and such before I go there so I have a large collection on knowledge. I cannot allow myself to do nothing until college.

That sounds like a great idea! Those extra arms would definitely come in handy doing simple tasks such as holding a flashlight or a wrench in place. The EEG (or voice commands) could active the arms/tool, and an eye tracking rig (http://hackaday.com/2012/05/30/opencv-knows-where-youre-looking-with-eye-tracking/) and glyphs could be used for aiming. Obviously this is a complex project involving many smaller sub-systems, so expect to do a lot of prototyping. Arduino/Rasberry Pi should have all the computing power you need, and are fortunately very cheap. I can see hardware becoming the expensive part here, as good actuators and batteries are relatively expensive. Go for proof of concept at this point with lightweight/weak arms, then build up to the full backpack.

Good luck. Just dont let them get the better of you, okay?

That's actually what i hope the final product to be like, loudboy. I think hands would be too complicated so I'll go for something more like those pinchers with lights inside them. I'm probably going to use four different arduino boards, or a single arduino mega depending on how the programming goes. What I will probably do is to a POC with a single arm and eeg headset, and if/when that works, I'll expand on it. I'll most likely use servos, but if I could use hydraulics, that would be great. It would give a much more 'organic' feel to the whole thing. I think servos will be the first route I go on, however. I could always do a combination of both, using servos for the joints and hydraulic cylinders for the 'muscles'. But yeah, I'll start with one arm, and go from there. I have, however, been looking into a kit called EZ-Robot, and the software allows facial tracking and whatnot, so I may be able to utilize that as well. If the pack becomes as well-working and strong as I hope it will, I cannot deny that I may end up looking like that >;)

It’s done already:
http://www.touchbionics.com/products/active-prostheses/i-limb-ultra-revolution/

Good luck. Just dont let them get the better of you, okay?

Assuming that the "them" you mean are the people telling the OP to learn something so he can crawl before trying for a moon shot I think you are wrong.

No one is trying to "get the better" of anyone. Unrealistic goals only leave you frustrated and learning absolutely nothing. Much better to learn something solid and transferable than to waste your time.

I am sure an intelligent person could figure it out easily

No, many many people have been trying for years to do this sort of thing with very limited success.

but I am in 9th grade and for that I have a VERY low budget.

I have no idea what age that makes you ( I live in the U.K and it means nothing to me ). But without test equipment and knowledge you do not stand a chance. Note knowledge and experience are not intelligence, creativity or flair. But all five are needed for your quest. So start off with something that you can do an learn from that.

All the elements are feasible in theory but it strikes me as extraordinarily difficult to bring them together into something useful given the difficulties in EEG based control - most likely, the first few hundred versions would turn out to be good for little more than poking yourself in the eye when you least expected it. But if the idea interests you, it would be a great idea to play with the elements and find out how to use them effectively. For example I could imagine a backpack-mounted arm system as you describe being given simple voice commands like 'hold this' and 'stay there' to operate grippers and switch between 'floating' and 'locked' position control and so on. Hard to imagine it being useful enough in practice to justify the development effort, but of course that's not why we play with these things.

It's done already: http://www.touchbionics.com/products/active-prostheses/i-limb-ultra-revolution/

I'm not talking about a single arm, I'm talking about (eventually) four arms controlled by one person)

start off with something that you can do an learn from that.

Like I said, I have a book that shows how to use an inexpensive eeg headset to control a simple arduino rover, so I plan to do that, and after that I'll move onto a single arm, and go from there.

All the elements are feasible in theory but it strikes me as extraordinarily difficult to bring them together into something useful given the difficulties in EEG based control - most likely, the first few hundred versions would turn out to be good for little more than poking yourself in the eye when you least expected it. But if the idea interests you, it would be a great idea to play with the elements and find out how to use them effectively. For example I could imagine a backpack-mounted arm system as you describe being given simple voice commands like 'hold this' and 'stay there' to operate grippers and switch between 'floating' and 'locked' position control and so on. Hard to imagine it being useful enough in practice to justify the development effort, but of course that's not why we play with these things.

Well, I knew from the get-go that it wasn't going to be easy. If I can, I would like to not have to use voice commands,but I can If I have to. I also, for the finished product, want to give it a function to let the arms just do their own thing.

Moderator edit: Pointless personal denigration deleted.

WireJunky: If I can, I would like to not have to use voice commands,but I can If I have to.

Well, unless you're working with a substantial R&D budget or have prior experience or working brain/machine interfaces you have potentially decades' worth of work on that part, assuming you manage it at all. So, realistically you are probably waiting for somebody else to develop the technology and make it available at a price you can afford. You may have different views, but I reckon you are in for a long wait. In the meantime there are lots of aspects of your vision that are achievable with currently available technology, and none of it seems especially difficult or expensive to implement. So, if you decide you want to go ahead with the concept before mind control is possible, you have to decide what other sort of control you would prefer. I guess you'd prefer voice activation over buttons and knobs, but it's up to you.

'Mind control' is possible within certain limits right now. The Emotiv Epoc headset can detect many different facial movements and such, I do believe that if I can get one working with arduino, there are enough facial combinations to control each individual arm.

Maybe start by controlling one of these http://www.kitsusa.net/phpstore/html/OWI-535-ROBOTIC-ARM-EDGE-KIT-non-solder-1681.html Then you don't have to deal with figuring out everything at once. Once you can control this, move on to making your own arm assembly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V87lSB5XWVs

Other options: http://www.kitsusa.net/phpstore/html/OWI-535PC-ROBOTIC-ARM-KIT-with-USB-PC-INTERFACE-and-Programmable-Software-4322.html http://www.kitsusa.net/phpstore/html/SCRA-01-SPEECH-CONTROLLED-ROBOTIC-ARM-KIT-1463.html

WireJunky: 'Mind control' is possible within certain limits right now. The Emotiv Epoc headset can detect many different facial movements and such, I do believe that if I can get one working with arduino, there are enough facial combinations to control each individual arm.

If you think that will do what you need for a price you can afford then there's nothing stopping you from trying it. You'd need to understand what sort of interface it provides before you could decide how to integrate it into your system. I don't know anything about them, but I suspect you'll find they're designed to be interfaced to a computer. In that case you would need to incorporate some sort of computer into your project - perhaps an RPi.

The actuator side strikes me as the easier part of the problem although still IMO easier than the brain interface part - making something flimsy that can wobble around under the control of a couple of servos would be easier enough, but I get the impression you're looking for something far more substantial than that. In that case you'd be looking at a significant expense to buy a suitable solution, or a significant amount of fabrication to build your own. The solution might involve an Arduino to interface between the actuators and the computer, but I see the Arduino portion as being trivial compared to the other parts. No offense meant, but I think you may be grossly underestimating the amount of work and skill that it would take to produce something like this.

PeterH:

WireJunky: 'Mind control' is possible within certain limits right now. The Emotiv Epoc headset can detect many different facial movements and such, I do believe that if I can get one working with arduino, there are enough facial combinations to control each individual arm.

If you think that will do what you need for a price you can afford then there's nothing stopping you from trying it. You'd need to understand what sort of interface it provides before you could decide how to integrate it into your system. I don't know anything about them, but I suspect you'll find they're designed to be interfaced to a computer. In that case you would need to incorporate some sort of computer into your project - perhaps an RPi.

The actuator side strikes me as the easier part of the problem although still IMO easier than the brain interface part - making something flimsy that can wobble around under the control of a couple of servos would be easier enough, but I get the impression you're looking for something far more substantial than that. In that case you'd be looking at a significant expense to buy a suitable solution, or a significant amount of fabrication to build your own. The solution might involve an Arduino to interface between the actuators and the computer, but I see the Arduino portion as being trivial compared to the other parts. No offense meant, but I think you may be grossly underestimating the amount of work and skill that it would take to produce something like this.

I plan to use a good bit of my summer becoming familiar with the Neurosky Mindwave headset and using THAT to control servos. After that, i will try to control an entire arm with the servos, and I will explore other means of controlling the arm, such as pneumatics or hydraulics. If all goes well, I shall request a more advanced EEG headset for Christmas, and then use my winter break becoming familiar with that. Any free time afterwards will be used trying to control two arms, three, and so on from there. There are instructions out there and in the book I have to connect a EEG headset to arduino. I may choose to use a solenoid valve and hydraulic actuators to use in the arms, or I may use DC motors. I can adapt the design to whatever mode of moving the arms I choose. I may or may not be underestimating it, but I shall never know until I try, right?

W-J, if you look up mind controlled robot on google, you'll see it's an open area of current research at several universities, http://www.google.com/webhp?source=search_app#output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=mind+controlled+robot&fp=1

It's not a bad dream, but probably much harder than you might imagine. All of this kind of stuff is. Those guys have been shooting for this sort of thing for a lot of years. So, don't be discouraged, but plan on working hard for a good part of the time over the next 20 or 50 years or so, ;-). Have fun.

If you like this kind of thing, you can research it for the next couple of years, and then go off to a university where they're doing that kind of research. So, you'll have a head start at it.

You might also read the comments I made to saleen about Marvin Minsky and computer vision, on this thread, http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=167286.msg1247059

WireJunky: I may or may not be underestimating it, but I shall never know until I try, right?

I applaud your enthusiasm, but I think you are setting yourself some massively unrealistic expectations. To avoid disappointment, I suggest you divide the project into small, easily achievable, steps and tackle them one by one. I think you will be surprised just how much time and effort it takes to get a working solution for a simple project even when you start out knowing that it's solvable and how other people before you have solved it.

PeterH:

WireJunky: I may or may not be underestimating it, but I shall never know until I try, right?

I applaud your enthusiasm, but I think you are setting yourself some massively unrealistic expectations. To avoid disappointment, I suggest you divide the project into small, easily achievable, steps and tackle them one by one. I think you will be surprised just how much time and effort it takes to get a working solution for a simple project even when you start out knowing that it's solvable and how other people before you have solved it.

I have stated multiple times that I plan to do everything in smaller parts, like getting familiar with EEG, researching other forms of control for the arms such as hydraulics, and starting out with simple things like a servo arm with an EEG headset. I am not expecting to get it right at all, I simply want to experiment with the idea. I won't be discouraged if it doesn't work, that's part of life. If something doesn't work, I'll just move on and revisit it again later on. I can't let anger get the best of me during these projects, I am fully prepared for failure.

The cool thing about this type of project is, it’s almost pure research, rather
than well-known pre-existing technology, but breakthroughs often come from
new people with new ideas. Ya never know.

oric_dan: The cool thing about this type of project is, it's almost pure research, rather than well-known pre-existing technology, but breakthroughs often come from new people with new ideas. Ya never know.

It's nice to be met with some degree of optimism. People seem to come at this like "this will never be accomplished", "you're wasting your time", etc. I think everything will become more understandable to me this summer with the free time. I smell a lot of late nights and early mornings :D