Technology has brought the human race to frontiers never thought possible by our ancestors. The rapid growth and development in the field of computers and electronics has enabled previously difficult and complex operations to be fully automated, essentially taking the dirty work off our hands.
Inevitably, this has implications in the design and engineering of modern cars. Using a complex network of sensors, processors, and actuators, the automobiles of today have become intelligent machines. Through electronic intervention, your car is able to help you safely negotiate otherwise daunting obstacles.
Whilst there is no denying the benefits of electronic driving aids on the road, they can prove to be double-edged swords off the beaten track. Vehicles that go into hard core off-roading excursions require exceptional toughness; more than that, the severe pounding suffered by hard core off-roading vehicles mean that damage is inevitable.
A vehicle engineered for off-road usage must therefore be easy to fix and mend on the move, and may even be required to soldier on with damaged parts until spares can be found. As such, one relying heavily on electronics may not be the best solution in such a situation.
Yet, most manufacturers find purely mechanical arrangements to be restricted in the scope of their abilities and flexibility to work over a wide range of conditions. Without some sort of electronic control unit in place, it is challenging to conceive of a solution that reacts accordingly to changing conditions. Challenging that is, if you did not think hard enough like Mitsubishi Motors did in conceiving its innovative Hybrid LSD (limited slip differential) that is used in the Triton pick-up.
When driving through constantly changing road conditions, the Triton’s innovative Hybrid LSD system serves to maximize traction and torque on the wheel with most grip, thus effectively managing wheel slipping in low grip conditions.
Rather than an electronic control unit, the Hybrid LSD system utilizes cleverly arranged mechanical components consisting of a helical gear and viscous coupling to perform torque- and speed-sensing functions respectively. An internal clutch escape mechanism also prevents loss of torque if a wheel starts spinning.
Compared to regular LSDs that can only disengage locking after the vehicle stops, Mitsubishi’s Hybrid LSD system has a key functional difference whereby it is able to self-unlock on the move when road conditions return to normal.
This advantage means that the Hybrid LSD is able to effectively replicate the function of an electronic traction control system using a robust and proven mechanical setup. Also, because it does not rely on complicated electronic control units, Hybrid LSD is not susceptible to delay in responses resulting from electronic glitches – it is a system that kicks in instantaneously and reliably whenever you need it.