Automobiles have come a long way from using steam engine power to internal combustion engine and advanced traction. Over the years, there have been a plethora of innovations that have helped the automobile industry to grow and become more efficient and reliable.
Here are 8 innovations that have changed the automobile industry (for good):
1) Daytime running headlamps
A relatively modern innovation, daytime running headlamps were introduced around the 1970s for safety purpose. These headlights turn on whenever the car engine is running; this makes the car conspicuous and easy for other drivers to spot during the daytime. This, in turn, helps in reducing daytime road accidents.
2) Automatic transmission system
Automatic transmission system, as the name itself suggests, eliminates the need for a driver to manually changing gear ratios in a moving vehicle. Automatic transmission systems are designed such that they provide torque and speed outputs best suitable for various driving conditions.
3) Tyre-pressure monitoring system
Tyre-pressure monitoring system (TMPS) is another important modern innovation. TMPS is used in a car to electronically monitor air pressure inside the tyres. With the help of real-time information on tyre air pressure provided by TMPS, traffic accident can be prevented. TMPS is also used for maintaining mileage and lowering tyre wear.
4) Electronic stability control
Electronic stability control is used in a vehicle to reduce the loss of traction by improving the overall stability of the vehicle. The system automatically detects loss of steering control and applies brakes to counter oversteer; this helps the driver get back on track. This largely helps in avoiding collisions while taking sharp turns at high speeds.
5) Multi-link suspension
An advanced version of automobile suspension, multi-link suspension uses multiple arms and control links for independent suspension in each wheel. Multi-link suspension allows for better load distribution which results in improved handling and mileage.
6) Disc brakes
A single-most important innovation in the automobile industry, disc brakes have played a key role in contributing towards improved road performance of modern cars. A typical disc brake design involves disc plates attached to the wheels and hydraulic callipers which use friction pads to slow down wheel rotation (kinetic energy) and bring the vehicle to rest.
7) Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is one of the most important innovations in the automobile industry. To lay a simple analogy, an internal combustion engine burns fuel (petrol or diesel) with an oxidizer (air) to produce mechanical power which is eventually transferred to the wheels via the drive shaft and the transmission system.
Belgian engineer, Étienne Lenoir, developed the first commercially successful internal combustion engine. German engineer, Nikolaus Otto, took a step further by developing the modern compressed charge internal combustion engine.
8) Electric starters
A starter is what cranks (rotates) an internal combustion engine from rest. A starter in a car is used to initiate the engine so that it can run on its own power. Initially, before the advent of starter motors, automobiles used various cranking methods including removable crank handle.
In a modern car with a four-stroke engine, the starter motor helps start the first cycle and is not required after the engine starts running as it relies on its self-sustaining feedback loop. Starter motors obtain optimum power from high surge currents supplied by starter batteries.
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