Automobiles, also known as cars, are vehicles that are self-propelled and used for transport. Automobiles are a vital part of our modern life as they facilitate the transportation of people and goods, thus acting as a lifeline to humans. The branch of engineering that deals with the manufacture and technology of automobiles is called Automobile engineering. Automobiles are a complex system with many components and various functions that need to be fulfilled for them to operate safely and efficiently. The modern automobile contains thousands of individual parts arranged in several semi-independent systems that function analogously to the human body’s circulatory and pulmonary system, for example, the radiator, fuel, oil, cooling, and engine.
Among the most important inventions of recent centuries, the automobile has greatly altered the lives of most people on the planet. The automobile’s power of rapid, long-distance movement has restructured societies, especially those of industrialized countries, around the mobility of individuals and the flexible distribution of goods made possible by trucks. While automobiles have brought freedom of movement to most individuals and increased economic opportunities for businesses, they encourage sprawl (i.e., straggling, low-density urban development that degrades landscapes and produces traffic congestion) and make air pollution and accident rates much higher than would otherwise be the case.
The design of an automobile is a delicate balance of many factors, and compromises are often necessary. Some of these factors include the car’s intended use, the cost of production, the ability to adapt to changing conditions and the need for safety features. For instance, a vehicle that is designed for highway speeds will be heavier and larger than a vehicle designed for city driving. It will require a more powerful engine and a different suspension system.
Many of the most significant advancements in automobile design are aimed at increasing the efficiency of the vehicle’s operation and at decreasing its emissions. These advancements have come about as a result of increasing regulatory pressure on manufacturers and the availability of new technologies such as high-strength steels, lightweight alloys, and electronic computers.
Other advances in automotive technology have focused on improving safety and comfort. These include advanced driver assist systems that can sense and respond to situations such as an imminent crash or road-surface deterioration. These systems are increasingly being included in mid- and entry-level vehicles as their associated costs decrease. Another area of active research and development is the automation of the vehicle, with a computerized system taking control of some or all of its tasks to reduce the driver’s workload. Automakers are currently exploring a variety of hybrid and electric vehicle models as they look for ways to meet the growing demand for environmentally friendly vehicles. In addition, they are experimenting with alternative fuels such as natural gas, ethanol, and electricity. Automakers are also incorporating systems to help the elderly and handicapped drive more easily. They are also working to produce vehicles that are easy to maintain and repair, so as to lower maintenance costs and increase reliability.