Passenger of confused Waymo robotaxi discusses what went wrong

Welcome to Episode 43 of The Robot Report Podcast, which brings conversations with robotics innovators straight to you. Join us each week for discussions with leading roboticists, innovative robotics companies, and other key members of the robotics community.

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This week, Mike and I spoke with Joel Johnson, who is better known as “JJRicks” on the interwebs. Joel was the passenger in the Waymo robotaxi that was confused multiple times by construction cones in Arizona. Joel’s video has gone viral on his YouTube channel. Joel joined the podcast to discuss the infamous ride on May 3, but to also discuss his overall experience with Waymo One, which includes nearly 150 rides to date, both of the manned and unmanned variety.

If you haven’t watched the video yet, you can see it in its entirety below. The interesting parts begin around the 11-minute mark.

We also caught up with Tom Ryden, executive director of MassRobotics. This week MassRobotics released its interoperability standards for mobile robots. Tom takes us inside the development of the standard, which allows robots of different types to share status information and operational conventions, or “rules of the road,” so they can work together more cohesively on a warehouse or factory floor. Our sister publication, Mobile Robot Guide, is now maintaining a running tally of international standards that might impact an autonomous mobile robots.

If you would like to be a guest on an upcoming episode of the podcast, or if you have recommendations for future guests or segment ideas, contact me. For sponsorship opportunities of The Robot Report Podcast, contact Courtney Nagle for more information.

Podcast timestamps

  • 0-13:15: Show Intro
  • 13:17-49:43: Conversation with Joel Johnson, passenger of confused Waymo robotaxi
  • 49:46-1:10:22: Conversation with Tom Ryden, executive director, MassRobotics
  • 1:10:23-1:14:39: Show Outro

Show notes

mike oitzman headshot.
Written by

Mike Oitzman

Mike Oitzman is Senior Editor of WTWH's Robotics Group, cohost of The Robot Report Podcast, and founder of the Mobile Robot Guide. Oitzman is a robotics industry veteran with 25-plus years of experience at various high-tech companies in the roles of marketing, sales and product management. He can be reached at