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Valeo Voyage XR streams an avatar into the back seat. Photo: Valeo

Valeo, a global auto supplier, has figured out how to teleport someone into your vehicle using virtual reality.

Why it matters: If an AV needed help, a safety driver could virtually step in and take control using remote control technology.

Background: In many states where AVs are being tested, teleoperation — or remote guidance — is required for safety.

  • Most AV companies have a teleops command center where trained drivers monitoring multiple screens are prepared to offer guidance if an AV encounters a situation that's confusing, like a construction zone or a double-parked car.
  • Sometimes, an operator is even able to remotely take control of the vehicle to steer around the obstacle and get it back on track.

What's new: Valeo's Drive4U Remote technology can do this, but adds another layer of intervention by simulating the virtual presence of a person in the car with you through its Voyage XR technology. Both innovations were unveiled at CES.

  • During a demo last week at Valeo's Silicon Valley R&D center, I donned a VR headset and held a pair of controllers, then sat in an office chair while my avatar popped into the back seat of a car being driven by a Valeo engineer.
  • Later, we swapped places and she rode along virtually with me, chatting and interacting by displaying her photos on my car's touchscreen.
  • As virtual passengers, we each got to select a personal avatar which was displayed in the car's rearview mirror.

VR is already on its way into cars. Audi and Disney also made a splash at CES with their debut of a new Holoride system that lets passengers play video games or immerse themselves in other experiences.

My thought bubble: It all sounds like a big distraction to me, but I suppose it could be useful when we are passengers, not drivers, in autonomous vehicles.

Valeo has more mundane uses in mind for VR in the car, too.

  • It could be used to train truck drivers, for example, or to let parents keep an eye on teen drivers. 
  • Or, it could even let you to take loved ones on a road trip without having to pay for an extra hotel room.

Go deeper

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The scene in 2019 of a site believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese authorities have breached "each and every act prohibited" under the UN Genocide Convention over the treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang province, an independent report published Tuesday alleges.

Why it matters: D.C. think-tank the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, which released the report, said in a statement the conclusions by dozens of experts in war crimes, human rights and international law are "clear and convincing": The ruling Chinese Communist Party bears responsibility.

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Twitter sues Texas AG Ken Paxton

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Twitter on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), saying that his office launched an investigation into the social media giant because it banned former President Trump from its platform.

Driving the news: Twitter is seeking to halt an investigation launched by Paxton into moderation practices by Big Tech firms including Twitter for what he called "the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President," days after they banned him following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

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Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement highlights the twin challenge facing Senate Republicans: finding good replacement candidates and avoiding a pathway for potential troublemakers to join their ranks.

Why it matters: While the midterm elections are supposed to be a boon to the party out of power, the recent run of retirements — which may not be over — is upending that assumption for the GOP in 2022.