Black History Month: Automobile Inventors

The automotive industry relies on automation more than any other. One car making plant may use more than a thousand robots.

So for Black History Month, we want to celebrate Black inventors who made a difference in this industry.

  • George Washington Carver is justly famous for his work with peanuts, but he also developed a synthetic rubber product from sweet potatoes in collaboration with Henry Ford, maker of the Model T. Synthetic rubber continues to be important in automaking.
  • Garrett Morgan came up with the idea for the modern traffic light, with red for stop, go for green, and yellow to predict the change between go and stop. Morgan’s yellow was an “All Hold” sign.
  • C.R. Patterson and Sons was one of the very few car companies belonging to Black people. The company closed in 1939, when large-scale automation gave big companies like Ford such a great advantage that smaller automakers were squeezed out of the competition.
  • McKinley Thompson Jr. was the first Black designer hired by Ford Motor Company. He was involved in the designs of the Mustang and Bronco vehicles.
  • Richard Spikes invented the automatic gear shift and the automatic transmission, as well as turn signals and a number of other innovations we still rely on today.

These men created other innovations in other areas, but the modern automobile would not be the same without them.

Rexroth and automobiles

We specialize in Rexroth (now Bosch Rexroth) drive and control systems. Rexroth was involved in the automotive industry from its early days.

Rexroth motion control is still used by many different auto manufacturers.

In honor of Black History Month, we salute the Black inventors of the automotive industry!

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