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The first Rover was a tricycle manufactured by J.K. Starley & Sutton Co of Coventry, England in 1884. The company was founded by James Starley and Josiah Turner in 1877. The two had formerly been partners in manufacturing sewing machines and had switched to bicycles by 1869.

In the 1880s the cycles available were the relatively unstable and dangerous penny-farthings. Starley made history in 1886 by producing the Starley Safety Bicycle - a rear-wheel-drive, chain-driven cycle with two equal-sized wheels, making it more stable than the previous high wheeler designs.

In 1888 Starley made an electric car, but it never was put into production.

1960 Rover 80

In 1896 J. K. Starley & Co. was renamed to the Rover Cycle Company. Three years after Starley's death in 1901, the Rover company began producing automobiles with the two-seater Rover Eight. Bicycle and motorcycle production continued until the Great Depression forced the end of production in 1924. After automobile production resumed in 1947, following the Second World War, the company began producing the Land Rover. The company currently exists as the MG Rover Group.

Rovers were the bubbles which capture would-be escapers from the Village in the TV series The Prisoner.

A rover is also a type of vehicle, often robotic in nature, that explores the terrain of a planet or its satellites.