Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804), a French inventor who built what many consider to be world's first self-propelled mechanical vehicle or automobile. In 1769, Cugnot built the first of two steam-powered vehicles that were intended to haul artillery pieces for the French Army. The first was called "Fardier à vapeur" ("Steam wagon"). His vehicle was said to be able to pull four tons and travel at speeds of up to four kilometers per hour. The heavy vehicle had two wheels in the back and one in the front, which supported the steam boiler and was steered by a tiller.
The vehicles were unwieldy and could not be kept in steam for more than 20 minutes. One of them crashed into a wall and the other overturned while trying to turn a corner, causing hot embers and boiling water to spill everywhere. Due to these failures, the French government withdrew funding, putting an end to Cugnot's efforts.