The 2018 rule modification says: “Goalie has to approach the ball in the whole penalty area.” I would like to confirm that this means that if the ball is placed anywhere in the penalty area, the rule requires that the goalie move closer to it (i.e. that the distance between the goalie and the ball will be shorter post movement). Since direction of approach is not specified, that would mean the goalie can approach the ball laterally, without forward movement. Thanks.
This is indeed what the rule change was meant to say, and also my interpretation of the rule.
I totally understand your sentiment here. Personally, I do not like the “Robots must respond to the ball in a direct forward movement” sentence that can be found earlier in 3.5, as it assumes that for each robot in each possible situation it is obvious to say what does “forward movement” mean. At least for me, this is not always the case, nor do the rules provide any further clarification. As such, it seems that this sentence will probably be removed in the following editions of the rules.
Thanks for the question again – I hope my answer helps to clarify the situation a bit. If not, please feel free to ask further.