Differential (Mechanical Device)

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A differential is a device, usually but not necessarily employing gears, capable of transmitting torque and rotation through three shafts, almost always used in one of two ways. In one way, it receives one input and provides two outputs; this is found in most automobiles. In the other way, it combines two inputs to create an output that is the sum, difference, or average, of the inputs. In automobiles and other wheeled vehicles, the differential allows each of the driving roadwheels to rotate at different speeds, while for most vehicles supplying equal torque to each of them. A vehicle's wheels rotate at different speeds, mainly when turning corners. The differential is designed to drive a pair of wheels with equal force, whilst allowing them to rotate at different speeds. In vehicles without a differential, such as karts, both driving wheels are forced to rotate at the same speed, usually on a common axle driven by a simple chain-drive mechanism. When cornering, the inner wheel needs to travel a shorter distance than the outer wheel, so with no differential, the result is the inner wheel spinning and/or the outer wheel dragging, and this results in difficult and unpredictable handling, damage to tires and roads, and strain on (or possible failure of) the entire drivetrain. In automotive applications, the differential housing is sometimes colloquially called a "pumpkin" as the differential housing typically resembles a pumpkin. A locking differential, such as ones using differential gears in normal use but using air or electrically controlled mechanical system, which when locked allow no difference in speed between the two wheels on the axle. They employ a mechanism for allowing the planetary gears to be locked relative to each other, causing both wheels to turn at the same speed regardless of which has more traction; this is equivalent to effectively bypassing the differential gears entirely. Other locking systems may not even use differential gears but instead drive one wheel or both depending on torque value and direction. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]

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