The front differential was a key point of failure in previous RISD entries in the NASA Rover Challenge. In the 2017 entry, we addressed this weakness through a grounds-up overhaul of the entire system.
The design process consisted of preliminary mechanism explorations that transitioned towards low-fidelity 3D-printed proof-of-concepts. A final CAD model was built and validated using SolidWorks. Drawings were created for manual machining and 3D models were exported for CNC prcesses.
CAM processes such as CNC machining were used to create some of the more complex geometries. Manual processes like turning were used to create parts like the inner 'shell'.
The final assembly was then mounted within a housing brazed onto the frame. This iteration of the differential effectively eliminated the reliability issues that plagued previous designs, while simultaneously reducing the weight and maintenance complexity.
Credit: Ryan Smith