Who was Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot?


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Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804) was a military  engineer from Void, Lorraine in France who, in 1769, made the first self-propelled vehicle.  A steam-powered vehicle, it was more of  a tractor than a car, and was invented for the purpose of hauling artillery.  It was built at the Paris Arsenal under the supervision of a mechanic named Michel Brezin.  The vehicle could haul a load of up to five tons at a rate of three miles per hour.  The original had to have water added about every 15 minutes.  The three-wheeled design, with the engine hanging over the front, was not very stable.  Cugnot was commisioned to build a second and much improved version, but by the time it was finished there was a new Minister of War and the government became uninterested.

The engine was quite revolutionary, the first steamer to move pistons without condensation and to use a recirpocating engine.  Cugnot retired to Brussels in 1779.

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