Automobiles are vehicles used to transport people from one place to another. They are self-propelled and use an internal combustion engine to power their wheels. This engine can be powered by a variety of fuels including gasoline, diesel, CNG, and electricity. Automobiles are a vital part of the modern world. They allow us to travel long distances in a short amount of time. People can also take advantage of the extra space on automobiles to carry luggage or equipment. Many people have jobs or businesses that require them to travel by car.
The word automobile comes from the Latin “auto” (self) and the Greek prefix “mobilis” (“moving”). The first cars were steam or electric-powered, but their engines weighed them down, making them slow and hard to control. Gasoline internal combustion engines eventually replaced them in the 1910s. Today’s automobiles are much lighter, faster, and more powerful than those of the past.
Autos are complex technical systems with thousands of parts. The main subsystems are the body, chassis, engine, drivetrain, and control systems. New technical developments are critical to automotive success. In addition, safety is a top priority.
Who invented the automobile is a matter of debate. Some say that Leonardo da Vinci designed early designs for vehicles, but it was Siegfried Marcus who built the first working automobile in 1870. His crude vehicle had no seats or steering and used a two-stroke engine fueled by gasoline. He improved his design to include seats and a four-stroke engine in 1888 or 1889.
The motor in an automobile sends energy to its wheels. It might get this energy from chemical energy in a tank of gasoline or electrical energy stored in a battery. The speed at which this energy is sent to the wheels is called its horsepower or kilowatt-hours of power.
There are different kinds of automobiles for a wide range of uses and tastes. For example, some people prefer sporty convertibles with removable roofs for open-air driving. Others prefer the comfort and dependability of sedans or station wagons. Some automobiles are equipped with air conditioning for hot or cold weather, and some have navigation systems to help drivers find their way.
Automobile accidents are common, and some of them cause death or severe injury. These crashes can be caused by human error, mechanical problems, or bad road conditions. Drivers must be trained to operate their cars safely. They must pay attention to the road, obey traffic laws, and maintain a safe speed limit.
The safety of automobiles has been improved through technology, safety research, and government regulations. For example, modern engine compartments are open at the bottom so that fuel vapors can vent to the outside air, and brakes are hydraulic and dual circuit to prevent sudden failure due to cable breakage. Systematic research on crash safety started in 1958, and most current efforts focus on absorbing external crash energy with crushable panels and reducing the motion of human bodies inside the passenger compartment.