If strikers that are taking a kickoff or dropball are allowed to be manually positioned behind the ball (or centre circle), then this forms a loophole for teams with autopositioning that is against the spirit of the rules. It is much safer and more advantageous for teams in such a situation to disable auto-positioning and manually place their striker behind the ball, instead of using the auto-positioning feature they already have. The rule also means that teams without auto-positioning are in no way penalised for not having this feature when attacking. If the league aims to move towards autonomous games with minimal interference by robot handlers, then there should be incentives to develop such features. Twelve of sixteen teams in the RoboCup 2016 meeting said that they would be able to implement some kind of auto-positioning by 2017, so if the league wants to push the use of auto-positioning, the path is clear. If the allowance for manual positioning is maintained, then at least one proposition to close the striker loophole would be that manually positioned strikers that are taking the kickoff are placed on the penalty mark instead, or even in their own goal area.
We do not think that the goalie should be allowed to be manually positioned, to avoid the situation that an incapable goalie is intently placed into goals with no hope of ever actually doing anything, just so that it can make itself wide and be in the way to prevent goals, especially because there no longer seems to be an incapable goalie rule that can get the goalie removed. But even if this omission is fixed (incapable goalie), the time for a goalie to be declared incapable and be removed is very long in comparison to a coming attack, so this ruling does not solve the problem. By auto-positioning, the goalie is proving that at least until the ball is there, it is a capable player.
I agree with the proposition in ‘1’. Currently the rules are not providing any real advantage to teams able to perform autonomous positioning. Thus, the extra work required to develop this kind of feature is not rewarded. I think that enforcing manual positioning of the striker on the penalty mark would be an appropriate incentive to develop this kind of behavior.
Regarding the goalie part, I had the feeling that many goals were avoided thanks to goalies which never moved in the whole game. I think that teams able to drive the ball from the center point to the opponent goal should not be blocked by a robot which has not moved since the beginning of the game. Therefore, I support the proposition of requiring autonomous positioning for the goalie. It would prove that the robot is able to walk properly and provide a clear incentive to develop autonomous positioning, at least for the goalie.
You are right that 12 teams indicated they would be able to implement basic autonomous positioning. However, the team leaders clearly voted in favor for manual positioning of the striker for kick-off (11/4/0) and drop-ball (11/-/4) and manual positioning of the goal keeper (12/2/-).
In my opinion it is not appropriate to decide against this clear vote of the team leaders. While I agree that the current rules might have led to some missed goals, I think it is also important to keep the game interesting and challenging. The humanoid league is already far behind all other soccer leagues in terms of game play. I don’t think the games get better or more interesting if we have less robots on the fields.
However, I do think for the future those special placement rules should be removed again. So we should discuss that during the team leader meeting in Japan again.