Automobiles and the Systems That Make Them Up
Automobiles have had a tremendous influence on world history and society. The modern automobile is a complex system of interrelated systems such as engine, transmission, cooling and lubrication, electrical, and suspension systems. Thousands of individual parts are assembled into a functional whole. The arrangement and choice of these systems depends on several factors. One factor is the vehicle’s intended use. For example, an automobile designed for rugged off-road driving will need durable, simple systems with high resistance to overloads and extreme operating conditions. On the other hand, a sports car designed to achieve fast speeds will need advanced suspension and steering systems and a more powerful engine with increased fuel efficiency.
Karl Benz invented the first automobile in 1885. Many inventors and engineers followed, but Henry Ford was the first to mass produce vehicles with standardized parts. His invention revolutionized the world because it made the automobile affordable for many people. Today, there are many types of automobiles, including commercial vehicles such as taxis and delivery trucks and recreational vehicles such as campers and caravans. There are even special automobiles such as crane vehicles at construction sites and road rollers for highway construction.
Most automobiles use an internal combustion engine that converts chemical energy into mechanical energy to turn the wheels of the vehicle. The engine can run on a variety of fuels, such as gasoline or diesel. The amount of energy that the engine can send to the wheels is measured in horsepower or kilowatts. Most cars have multiple gears that allow the driver to select the ratio of the number of rotations per minute of the crankshaft, or power input, to the number of revolutions per minute of the transmission output, which directs the energy to the wheels.
Many of the systems in an automobile are necessary to keep it safe and running smoothly, such as a brake system that stops the automobile quickly or prevents it from rolling when parked. Other important systems include the air conditioning or heating to keep passengers comfortable, and the electrical system to power lights and radios.
Other major factors that affect automobile design are the standards set for safety and pollution-control components. An automobile must also meet certain standards for its size, weight and appearance. The safety standards require a strong and stable frame, as well as air bags for front and rear occupants. The size and shape of the body must also be able to accommodate passengers and cargo without creating too much resistance when traveling over rough roads or at high speed. A vehicle’s design must also comply with rules governing its height and width, as well as laws about the materials it can be made from. All of these requirements may add to the cost of the vehicle. But the benefits of owning a car usually outweigh the costs.