Shaoqing Ren NIO: The Genius of Autonomous Driving

Ren Shaoqing NIO – Top Researcher in Autonomous Driving

Not many people know this, but NIO car manufacturer’s head of AI, Ren Shaoqing (任少卿) is an absolute genius in the field of autonomous driving. In this blog post, we will detail facts about Dr Ren Shaoqing and his research in self driving and autonomous driving technology. We will also introduce other top researchers in the field of autonomous driving. All our sources are from Google Scholar and other trusted sources.

Ren Shaoqing NIO – the secret weapon of NIO Autonomous Driving

Everyone knows that the main trumps of electric vehicles are clean energy, and autonomous driving. NIO has managed to hire the top researcher in the field of autonomous driving. They are quite low profile about it, not many people know about this at the moment.

Just click on the Google Scholar (Autonomous Driving) link, it will show you the full ranking of the top researchers in the field of autonomous driving, ranked by the official Google Scholar algorithm according to citation count.

The top 5 researchers in the field of Autonomous Driving, ranked by the official Google Scholar page.

Just look at the top researcher in the list, it is Dr Ren Shaoqing of NIO, with a whopping 111,396 citation count (as of Dec 2020). Citation counts are a way of measuring the impact of a researcher’s work. Basically, the more citation counts means the more people are noticing and citing the researcher’s papers. Ren Shaoqing’s citation count of 111k is typically 10 times more than a Full Professor at most universities.

In terms of quantity of citations, it is clear that Ren Shaoqing (NIO’s head of AI), is at the top of the game. How about quality of research?

Dr Ren Shaoqing’s research quality is top notch as well!

Ren Shaoqing NIO – Achievements in the field of Autonomous Driving

  • First author paper at NIPS (Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems), which is one of the best conferences in computer science. The paper’s topic is “Faster R-CNN: Towards real-time object detection with region proposal networks”. Real-time object detection is very related to autonomous driving, it helps the car detect objects and obstacles in real time.
  • CVPR Best Paper Award, 2016. CVPR is the premier annual computer vision event comprising the main conference and several co-located workshops and short courses. His co-authored award winning paper is titled “Deep Residual Learning for Image Recognition”.
  • ImageNet Large Scale Visual Recognition Challenge (ImageNet) Competition Winner Award, 2015
  • COCO Detection Challenge Winner Award, 2015
  • Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship, 2014
  • National Scholarship of China, 2010

In case, if anyone is thinking that Dr Ren Shaoqing is just an academic nerd with no business experience, that would be totally wrong! He has business and startup experience as well, he co-founded an autonomous driving software startup Momenta.ai, which grew into unicorn (private company with a valuation over $1 billion) in three years, aiming to help people live a better life with improved safety and efficiency of driving through artificial intelligence.

More of Ren Shaoqing’s achivements in autonomous driving and self driving can be found on his personal website.

Some of the comments on Ren Shaoqing’s personality can be found on Chinese website Zhihu (Chinese version of Quora):

这里的“年轻”除了长相上的嫩,也包括为人处世——完全没有架子。他是个很儒雅的人,手下的团队跟他也很亲近。少卿做事风格看起来不紧不慢、慢条斯理,但论及“拼”,他也是超拼。记得有一段时间,他白天一整天的时间都花在各种会、各种面试上,一直会持续到凌晨十二点之后。这时他也不着急走,而是继续干些得静下心来才能干的工作。早期他主要负责视觉感知研发方面的工作,后来负责了一段时间高速路自主巡航相关的项目,我走的时候还是在负责感知研发。

Translation:

Ren Shaoqing is a young guy, he is very humble with no airs. He is a very refined person, and his team is very close to him. Shaoqing’s style of doing things does not seem to be hurried, his style is slow and steady, but when it comes to “fighting”, he is also super persistent. I remember that there was a period of time when he spent the whole day in various meetings and interviews, which lasted until after 12am midnight. At this time, he did not leave office in a hurry, but continued to do some work that could only be done by calming down in the quiet of the night. In the early days, he was mainly responsible for the research and development of visual perception. Later, he was responsible for the projects related to autonomous driving on highways for a period of time. When I left, he was still responsible for the research and development of visual perception.

Source: https://www.zhihu.com/question/414025403/answer/1408847709

Other Top Researchers in Autonomous Driving

Other than Ren Shaoqing of NIO, there are also other genius top researchers in the field of Autonomous Driving. Interestingly, the third highly ranked researcher in Autonomous Driving (Dr Zhou Xing) is also affiliated to NIO!

We compile some of the top researchers in autonomous driving in the table and barchart below.

Top Researchers in Autonomous Driving and Computer Vision

We list 15 top researchers (with more than 1000 citations) in the field of autonomous driving and computer vision. Notice that #1 and #3 on the list are from NIO!

Rank Name Citations
1 Shaoqing Ren (NIO) 111396
2 Andrew Blake (Samsung) 57258
3 Zhou Xing (NIO, Stanford) 36267
4 Raquel Urtasun (Uber, University of Toronto) 34264
5 Andrej Karpathy (Tesla) 32692
6 Jonathan P. How (MIT) 31601
7 Gang Wang (Alibaba) 16240
8 Uwe Franke (Daimler Mercedes-Benz) 13485
9 Fisher Yu (ETH Zurich) 13150
10 Dmitri Dolgov (Google) 8381
11 Markus Enzweiler (Daimler Mercedes-Benz) 7917
12 John M. Dolan (Carnegie Mellon University) 7206
13 Forrest Iandola (Tesla) 6277
14 Xinzhou Wu (XPENG) 5787
15 Tianjun Xiao (Tesla) 2588
Chart of top researchers in Autonomous Driving, ranked by Google Scholar Citations.

We can see from the barchart above that all 15 researchers (ranging from NIO, Tesla, XPENG) are very excellent in their field, producing research with more than 1000 citations in the field of autonomous driving or closely related fields like computer vision.

It is clear that Ren Shaoqing is one of the brightest stars in this exciting new field of Autonomous Driving!

Ren Shaoqing – the 21st Century Zhuge Liang of Autonomous Driving

Based on Ren Shaoqing’s personality (devoted and extremely hardworking 鞠躬尽瘁, but yet calm and unhurried) and achievements in autonomous driving, he bears close resemblance to a legendary character in Chinese history: Zhuge Liang.

In Chinese history or legend, Zhuge Liang was a famous military strategist and inventor. He is said to invent the first self-driving (or self-walking) cow, called the Wooden Cow Flowing Horse (木牛流马). It was said to be able to walk by itself and was used to transport grain during the Northern Expedition.

The self-driving car (or rather cow), invented by Zhuge Liang, according to legend.

Hence, Zhuge Liang can be said to be the father of autonomous driving or self-driving, according to legend. Will Ren Shaoqing (NIO’s head of AI) become the Zhuge Liang of the 21st Century and invent the perfect autonomous self-driving car?

NIO Book

Currently, there is no NIO book available as history is still being written! We will definitely add them here if books on NIO become available. For a deeper insight into Electric Vehicles and Autonomous Vehicles, there are several great books on Amazon.


Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
(New York Times Bestseller!)


Autonomous Vehicles: Opportunities, Strategies and Disruptions: Updated and Expanded Second Edition
(Autonomous vehicles will change our fundamental lifestyles and create what are perhaps the most significant opportunities of this century!)


Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car―And How It Will Reshape Our World
(Autonomous Vehicles are said to be the innovation that promises to be the most disruptive change to our way of life since the smartphone!)