Constant Velocity: Definition, Equation & Examples

Constant Velocity: Definition, Equation & Examples
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  • 0:01 What is Constant Velocity?
  • 0:40 Properties
  • 2:18 Examples
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Richard Cardenas

Richard Cardenas has taught Physics for 15 years. He has a Ph.D. in Physics with a focus on Biological Physics.

In this lesson you will learn the definition of constant velocity, its important properties, and the equation that represents it. You will also see examples or applications of constant velocity.

What is Constant Velocity?

Velocity gives us information about the rate of change of your position, meaning how fast your position is changing per unit time. In physics, velocity is defined as the displacement divided by time where displacement is defined as the difference between your final and initial positions. Furthermore, when an object travels the same distance every second, then the object is said to be moving with constant velocity. This means that the magnitude of the velocity (or speed) and the direction of the velocity both remain constant.

Properties

Constant velocity has units of distance per time. The velocity gives you information about the rate of change of your position or how fast your distance is changing per unit time. The table below lists the common units of velocity.

Velocity Units Description
m/s meters per second
km/h or kph kilometers per hour
mi/h or mph miles per hour

Constant velocity is a vector. A vector is a quantity that requires both a magnitude and direction to fully describe the quantity. For velocity, the magnitude refers to how fast the object is moving (refer to the units listed in the table above). For direction, you may use any of the geographical directions (North, South, East, or West) and a positive sign or a negative sign (to represent up or to the right and down or to the left, respectively). An angle may also be used to give velocity direction.

Velocity may also be represented in a diagram as an arrow like the one illustrated in the figure below. The magnitude of the vector is the length of the arrow, and the direction of the vector is where the arrow is pointing (which is 47 degrees North of East in this figure).

Velocity Vector
Velocity

Velocity is defined as displacement over time. The displacement refers to the difference between your final and initial positions. The time refers to how long it took to get from your initial to your final position. Below is the equation for velocity.

Velocity Equation

Examples

In your physics lab, you are asked to take a meter stick and put a mark on the floor of a long hallway in one meter intervals for a total of 8 meters. Eight of your classmates stand at each of the marks on the floor holding digital stopwatches. Your group is instructed to start their watches when you release a battery-operated car and to stop their watches as soon as the car passes their respective marks. The information is put in a table and graphed.

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