July 30, 2012
Olympic Precision

GOLD for Land Surveyors at London 2012!

When it comes to achieving Olympic glory, one of the most important elements is accuracy in judgment. Have you ever wondered how they accurately measure the distance of a javelin or discus throw or a shot put? Well, if you look closely while watching the athletic events at the London 2012 Olympic Games, you will notice a number of yellow tripods with machines assembled on top scattered around the field. These machines are called Robotic Total Stations and are used by Land Surveyors to accurately locate co-ordinates and measure the distance and height between co-ordinates to the nearest millimetre.

At each of the throwing events a Land Surveyor will set up a tripod and Total Station behind the athletes starting position to record a base co-ordinate. The robotic element of the Total Station then comes into play as it is programmed to search for a reflection panel which accurately locates a second co-ordinate. In most cases, the reflection panel is attached to a mobile vertical pole and after each event; you will see an Olympic official with the pole in hand locating the exact position of where the javelin, discus or shot put has landed.

The Surveyor behind the Total Station programmes the robotic machine to robotically locate the reflection panel, once it has sited the reflection panel the Total Station then records an immediate and exact co-ordinate at the site of the pole. Now a distance can be measured between the co-ordinate of the Total Station and that of the reflection pole. The distance of the throw is then displayed on the machine’s screen and can also be electronically stored on the machines data card to be downloaded and saved by the Olympic officials.

So there you have it, without the skill and knowledge of the world’s Land Surveyors and the advances in modern technology, the modern Olympic Games would still be using links and chains to measure distance events at the Games.