1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Circular Motion of an automobile

  1. Mar 4, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    This is just a conceptual question:
    Give an example of a situation in which an automobile driver can have a centripetal acceleration but no tangential acceleration.

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I understand that centripetal acceleration occurs when there's a change in direction, but how can a driver change direction without having a velocity? I think it may have something to do with skidding, but then again, I might be totally off :confused:
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2009 #2
    Think about the definition of velocity, being a vector. It has a magnitude and direction. Since centripetal and tangential acc'ns are at normals, you can have one without the other. A change in direction with no change in magnitude of velocity (speed) will give you a centripetal acc'n without a tangential one.
  4. Mar 4, 2009 #3
    So, would an example be if velocity stayed at a constant 5 m/s and the car turned?
  5. Mar 4, 2009 #4
    Yes that would be ok. In the example of a car, there will always be resistive forces i.e. friction/air resistance but if the driver accelerates enough to balance these, his speed will stay constant. If he turns the car there will be a static friction force directed towards the centre of the turning circle, this supplies the centripetal force.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Circular Motion of an automobile
  1. Circular motion (Replies: 1)

  2. Circular motion (Replies: 4)

  3. Circular Motion (Replies: 4)

  4. Circular motion (Replies: 8)

  5. Circular Motion (Replies: 9)