The Impact of Automobiles on Society
Automobiles are wheeled motor vehicles used mostly for transporting passengers. Their design and operation depend on several factors including the vehicle’s intended use, passenger comfort options, engine performance, and high-speed handling and stability. The design of an automobile combines many engineering disciplines, and compromises are often made to satisfy different factors. The automotive industry has a significant impact on society. It has contributed to economic development and is responsible for numerous innovations in industrial manufacturing, such as the assembly line. The automobile also provides a means of travel for people who would otherwise be without access to transportation.
Historically, the automobile has been powered by internal combustion engines. The first automobiles were developed in the late 1800s, and they replaced horse-drawn carriages. Siegfried Marcus, a German working in Vienna, Austria, developed the idea of using gasoline as fuel for an internal combustion engine in 1870. He built a crude model that did not have seats, steering, or brakes, but the car was driven by a two-stroke engine that burned gasoline.
The automobile revolutionized American society, providing individuals with greater freedom and access to jobs and services in the cities. Industries grew to support the manufacture of parts and accessories for cars, and services such as gas stations and convenience stores became common. The automobile also provided an opportunity for the middle class to live the modern life that was previously only available to those with wealthier family backgrounds.
There are now more than 1.4 billion cars in the world. Most are driven in the United States, where drivers cover an average of three trillion miles each year. The automobile has influenced nearly every aspect of society, from urban planning to police, fire, and utility service to such personal uses as vacation travel and dining. Mass production techniques, developed for the automobile, have been adapted in many other industries, making it possible to manufacture products at a lower cost and with greater variety.
Although there are many definitions of the automobile, most agree that it is a four-wheeled motor vehicle that is designed for transporting passengers. It is usually powered by an internal combustion engine, has seating for one to seven people, and has a body that protects its passengers from the elements and other vehicles. The design of the engine depends on whether it will be front-wheel or rear-wheel drive, and how many wheels will be driven.
A car’s systems must be able to respond rapidly to changes in the road’s surface conditions. This requires a complex network of sensors and controllers to maintain control of the engine and car’s direction. A variety of other systems, such as steering, braking, and suspension, must work together to keep the car on track and provide safety and comfort for its passengers. A car must also have the ability to reach high speeds, and this often calls for more sophisticated engineering to optimize high-speed handling. These and other considerations make the automobile a highly complex and technologically advanced machine.