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Nikon, Getty, and support services firm will bring automated cameras to the summer games

Robotic camera mounts are nothing new to the world of sports, but the 2016 Olympics in Rio will showcase the most advanced camera systems ever put into play. Mark Roberts Motion Control, a camera support company specializing in studio and broadcast equipment, has teamed up with Nikon and Getty Images to provide a new type of automated camera system. It’s called the POD, and it will give photographers more control and freedom than ever before.

According to a report in Mashable, Getty Images, the official photo agency of the International Olympic Committee, plans to use more than a dozen POD cameras at the games this year, placing them in some twenty venues. The PODs can be set up in as little as 45 minutes and will be mounted in areas where photographers won’t otherwise have access.

Sports photographers already set up remote cameras to capture hard-to-see action, but those cameras are fixed in place. Exposure adjustments might be possible remotely, but camera angle and lens zoom are all locked in. The POD, in contrast, allows complete freedom of movement and control over zoom lenses through its custom software. Photographers can even program preset positions for actions they know will be repeated, such as free throws in basketball.

The PODs supply both power and Ethernet connectivity through a single cable, keeping the cameras hardwired to a network for fast and immediate image transfer. With the photographer stationed at a computer, there’s a good chance that photos taken by POD cameras will be the first to make it online to be seen by the world. That means there’s a lot of pressure to ensure the system will be reliable.

While the PODs are still late-stage prototypes, Getty plans to begin setting up final versions in July, well before the opening ceremony on August 5. That’s probably a good idea; as with any new technology, Getty likely expects to have to work out some kinks to get the systems ready for game time.