first of all: we appreciate your efforts on making the rules available much earlier this time. That helps the teams as well as the organizers of competitions like us.
In a meeting of the German Rescue Line league chairs and experienced referees we have collected some feedback for the 2018/2019 Rescue Line rules. As the rules are still in draft state, we hope that we can improve things before they are final.
The comments mainly result from our discussions on how to "implement" them from a referee's point of view as we all want a fair competition and that requires that the rules have to be clear and easy to apply in every situation to avoid inconsistencies in the referees decisions. So that will be the focus of the following feedback:
Scoring of Gaps
In 3.5.6, the definition of "successfully reached the line after the gap" is that more than half the robot is on the line after the gap. This one is tricky for two reasons:
- This is hard for the referees to decide as the bot is moving. This will lead to many discussion with the teams and is a huge source for inconsistent scoring.
- It leads to many difficulties in scoring some situations: Suppose we have a tile with two gaps on it (as illustrated on the same page of the rules [pg. 12]). The bot loses the line within the first gap and re-detects it on the following tile. This is not a lack of progress, but how many gaps do we have to award points for? The line directly after the first gap is the very small piece between the gaps, this one would have been missed (=> no points for the first gap). The line after the second gap would have been re-dected, yet the bot has not even detected the line directly in front of the gap, so awarding points for this gap would be a bit weird, too, yet it one could argue that according to the rules we have to award the points for that one. With the "old" (2017) rule set, the normal LoP rules would apply and in the scenario decribed above, it's clear the we would award points for both gaps. So we suggest moving back to the 2017 scoring of gaps.
General Complexity of the Rules
A second thing we want to mention is a general observation: The rules tend to get more and more complex and harder for the referees to apply. Especially scoring that depends on prior events on the field make scoring sheets more complex and much more error prone.
Examples for these dependencies are the points awarded for dead victims. The rule itself makes totally sense and is a great extension of the current rules. But the referee has to track if all victims alive have been rescued so you don't just have to count the victims rescued but you need to track the order. If we award no points at all for dead victims rescued before the living ones, that would be easier for the referees and less error prone.
A second example is the 3.5.14: you have to track if any victim was touched to be able to reward the points. As the Euro 2018 in Italy has shown, these points are nearly never awarded, so our suggestion would be to remove the rule completely.
All these things are not complex on their own (actually, these are details), but you have to add at least 3 additional fields on the scoring sheet and so their complexity is increasing every year. Also, the referees have to keep track of more and more things in parallel. Please keep in mind that they are volounteers and we do not have much time to train them. Some of the referees are completely new every year.
The reason we want to reduce the complexity is not just that makes the whole process of scoring more error prone, but it also leads to more discussions and increases the time we need to provide the results. This is something we would really like to be considered when you are updating the rules for the next years.
We hope that this feedback helps making the Rescue Line competition even better!
Best regards from Germany,