An automobile is a wheeled vehicle that carries its own motor.
Different types of automobiles include cars, buses, trucks, vans,
and motorcycles, with cars being the most popular. The term is
derived from Greek 'autos' (self) and Latin 'movére' (move),
referring to the fact that it 'moves by itself'. Earlier terms for
automobile include 'horseless carriage' and 'motor car'. As of 2005
there are 600 million cars worldwide (0.074 per capita).
The automobile was hailed as an environmental improvement over
horses when it was first introduced. Before its introduction, in New
York City, over 10,000 tons of manure had to be removed from the
Vehicles are non-living means of transportation.
They are most often man-made (e.g. bicycles, cars, motorcycles,
trains, ships, and aircraft), although some other means of
transportation which are not made by man can also be called
vehicles; examples include icebergs and floating tree trunks.
Vehicles may be propelled by animals, e.g. a chariot or an ox-cart.
However, animals on their own, though used as a means of
transportation, are not called vehicles. This includes humans
carrying another human, for example a child or a disabled person.
Most land vehicles have wheels. Please see the wheel article for
examples of vehicles with and without wheels.
Movement without the help of a vehicle or an animal is called
locomotion. The word vehicle itself comes from the Latin vehiculum.
After the period of the steam road coach ended by 1840, interest in
mechanical road transport then lapsed, and it was many years before
any serious attempts where made to develop further the use of steam
power on ordinary roads. The steam driven locomotive from this epoch
no doubt influenced them, and convinced them that steam-driven
private carriages were feasible.
Hence, in 1858, Thomas Rickett of Buckingham built the first of
several steam carriages. Instead of looking like a carriage it
resembled a small locomotive. It consisted of a steam-engine mounted
on three wheels; two large driven rear-wheels and one smaller front
wheel by which the vehicle was steered. The whole was driven by a
chain drive and a maximum speed of twelve miles per hour was
reached. The weight of the machine was 1.5 tones and somewhat
lighter than Rickett's steam carriage.
Two years later, in 1860, Rickett built a similar but heavier
vehicle. This model incorporated spur-gear drive instead of chain.
In his final design, resembling a railway locomotive, the cylinders
where coupled directly outside the cranks of the driving-axle.
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