Automobiles are road vehicles designed to transport passengers, commonly propelled by an internal-combustion engine using a volatile fuel. Modern automobiles are complex technical systems consisting of many subsystems with specific design functions. They are built from a variety of materials, including steel section pillars and structures with aluminum paneling.

The automobile has served as a symbol of the United States’ long-standing predisposition to individual freedom of movement and action, and this freedom has led people to live far from workplaces and to use automobiles for commuting between them. The automobile has also enabled people to travel for pleasure, to visit places of interest, and to shop and socialize with friends and family.

Despite its popularity, the automobile has problems that can be dangerous. These include human drivers who make mistakes, wheels that can lose traction, and the tendency of some vehicles to roll over. The industry has worked to address these problems through design, engineering, and safety features.

The technical building blocks of the automobile began to take shape in the late 1700s and early 1800s, when steam and electrically powered vehicles were being developed. These were quite primitive, however, and could not achieve high speeds or be driven for extended distances without recharging. The development of a gasoline powered car by Karl Benz in 1885 opened the door to the modern automobile as we know it today.

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