Rule Changes for RoboCup 2019

In this second post, I’ll talk about some of the rule changes this year. Like I mentioned in the first email, the changes are mostly minor. The focus for the RoboCup 2019 lies on making the game quicker and more streamlined while fixing some inconsistent rules. For reference, the rules can be found here on the Rules page.

Hardware Changes

Chapter 3.2.3: Dribbling devices that transfer a non-horizontal spin to the ball are permitted.Rationale: This rule intended to prevent curved shots. Since curved shots are possible even with horizontal spin axes and the past two RoboCup events have shown that curved shots are not unfairly strong but rather a technique worth exploring, this restriction is lifted.

Robot Handler

Chapter 4.2.1: The robot handler is responsible for the game preparation (coin toss, choosing keeper id, …) and signs the game result sheet.Rationale: Having only one contact person per team and match makes it easier for the referee.

General Game Structure

Chapter 4.4.1: Playing times in overtimes are adjusted.Rationale: We forgot it this year and we are sorry about that.

Chapter 4.4.3: The 10-0 early termination rule changes from a 10 goal advantage to 10 goals shot.Rationale: Ending the game 11-1 was more advantageous in group stage matches than a 10-0, thus scoring own goals was a valid strategy.

Free Kicks

Chapter 5.2.3: The distance to field lines is doubled for all free kick positions.Rationale: The distance to the field lines has to be larger than the tolerance radius of the automatic ball placement.

Chapter 5.2.4: Scoring a goal from a indirect free kick requires a second ball contact of an attacking robot.Rationale: Direct goal shots from indirect free kicks won’t count as a goal any more even if the ball touches the keeper before entering the goal


Chapter 5.2.6: The match continues after a penalty shot.Rationale: The previous rules would have intended a dropped ball instead if the ball does not cross one of the field lines

Automatic Ball Placement

Chapter 5.4.1: The process got reworked.Rationale: The goal is to make the ball placement procedure a lot faster by cutting out waiting times.

Chapter 5.4.1: The stop speed limit does not apply to automatic ball placement any more.Rationale: This allows for faster placement procedures. Since the ball speed limit is in place to protect the human referee, it is not necessary here.


Note: All offenses are categorized into 3 groups to make it more consistent: Minor offenses, Fouls and Unsporting Behavior. This inevitably means that the sanction of some offenses changed. Please read chapter 8 of the rules for a complete list of offenses and the resulting sanctions.

Chapter 8.1.1: The aimless kick rule is no longer applied in division A.Rationale: Because of the increased field size and the reduced ball speed, stray balls are easier to catch for division A teams. Also, placing the ball after aimless kicks automatically took a lot of time.

Chapter 8.1.2: Lack of progress: Not shooting the free kick in time now results in an indirect free kick for the other team instead of a force start.
Rationale: All rule infringements related to being unable to bring the ball into play (lack of progress, double touch, …) are sanctioned equally.

Chapter 8.1.2: The maximum allowed time to bring the ball into play is reduced to 10 seconds for division B and 5 seconds for division A (It was 15 seconds). This reduces the time wasted while the ball is out of play. Also, in division A, everyone knows which team will be allowed to shoot the next free kick because of the automatic ball placement. So complex move patterns and positional changes are still possible, as long as they don’t interfere with the ball placement.

Not in the rules any more: Touching an opponent inside the own defense area no longer results in a penalty. This rule is not relevant since the attacking robot is not allowed to touch the ball in the defense area any more.

Chapter 8.2: Every third foul will result in a yellow card. There is a single counter that increases whenever a team commits a foul regardless of the type of foul. This makes it a lot easier to remember, understand and keep track of during a match. The “every third’ is the same as the yellow card to penalty escalation rule.

Chapter 8.2.1: The minimum 0.2m distance to the opponent defense area also applies to stop. This ensures that the defenders have enough time to set up a defense

Chapter 8.2.3: The match continues when robots crash with similar speed. It’s not necessary to stop the game and continue it with forced start. The foul counter of both teams will still be increased.

Chapter 8.2.4: Pushing is independent of the ball. Although most pushing offenses occur in duel situations, the ball does not necessarily have to be between the robots for pushing to happen.

Chapter 8.2.6: Tipping over or dropping parts now counts as a foul. It’s easily avoidable and it’s a safety issue. Note that the human referee has to call this foul since the AutoRef cannot detect it.

Chapter 8.3.3: Showing lack of respect is defined as unsporting behavior. The robot handler is the only one that is allowed to talk to the referee. The referee is encouraged to punish the team if other people annoy or try to start discussing with people holding impartial roles.

Chapter 8.4: If an offense happens while the ball is out of play, the free kick type and position will not be overridden.Rationale: Imagine the following example: Team A will shoot a corner kick. A robot of team B crashes into the defense of team A. According to the old rules, the corner kick would have been cancelled and a direct free kick would be awarded for team A at the point the collision happened. To render such exploits impossible, this rule is introduced.

Robot Substitution

Chapter 9: Robot substitution is refactoredRationale: It now incorporates the new Game Controller and the optional team protocol

Chapter 9: Robot substitution requires the match to be halted.Rationale: Halt no longer is an emergency-only referee command. Halt will be used whenever humans have to interfere with the robots on the field (the vision needs to be recalibrated, a robot tips over, drops parts or has to be exchanged).

Please note that even though a lot of work has already gone into the rules, there’s still a lot of time left until the RoboCup in Sydney. So some of the rules may still change until then. If you have any kind of feedback or suggestions or you find some of the rules inconsistent, misleading or unclear, please let us know!