New Industry Products

Unico Launches Multi-Channel Battery Testing Platform

March 20, 2023 by Shannon Cuthrell

Unico’s newly launched Quantum Drive Platform aims to help electric vehicle battery companies develop and validate their products faster and with lower installation and operating costs. 

Unico, a Wisconsin-based company that markets drive and control systems, unveiled a new testing platform for electric vehicle battery developers at this week’s International Battery Seminar in Orlando.


A look at Unico’s Quantum Drive platform with a configuration tailored for testing 1-megawatt dual port battery packs with 400-kilowatt (kW) front axle and 600-kW rear axle connections. Image used courtesy of Unico

A look at Unico’s Quantum Drive platform with a configuration tailored for testing 1-megawatt dual port battery packs with 400-kilowatt (kW) front axle and 600-kW rear axle connections. Image used courtesy of Unico


The system combines multiple battery pack, module, and cell test channels, enabling cheaper and more streamlined testing supporting alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) outputs. Users can swap charge/discharge energy between channels and save additional energy through a second-life battery energy storage system. Based on an open software interface, the platform also provides the ability to choose data acquisitions and controls for test runs and further optimization. 


Quantum Drive Platform Pilot

A key selling point is that the Quantum Drive Platform can reduce or eliminate the need for utility connections since its high-performance channels provide galvanic isolation between channels without relying on low-frequency transformers. 

Unico plans to start its pilot programs for the Quantum Drive Platform this summer, launching deliveries in the third quarter. In an email, a company spokesperson told EE Power that the product has four pilot customers as of mid-March. 

One customer is UTAC, a large company providing automotive testing and validation, regulation and approval, training, and other services. In Unico’s press release, UTAC Managing Director Dustin Harrison lauded the platform’s usage for its cell driver technology, offering a “powerful solution” for reducing the utility power requirements of test systems with second-life batteries while simultaneously lowering carbon emissions at its facilities. 

As Don Wright, vice president of engineering at Unico, puts it in the company’s announcement, EV battery testing requires floor space, and several high-power feeds to validate cells, modules, and packs against a wide operating range. However, this equates to additional installation and operational costs. With the Quantum Drive Platform, customers can recirculate the energy produced from their test equipment, thus sparing the floor space and other expenses that would otherwise apply. 


The Latest of Several EV-targeted Products

The Quantum Drive Platform was manufactured in Unico’s home state of Wisconsin. The company has a global presence with sales, development, and service locations across the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Australia. On its website, it boasts more than 1,000 installations worldwide. 

Founded in 1967, Unico initially served the demand for computer-linked motor controls. In 2003, the company capitalized on advances in drive technology to hone in on the then-budding EV market. Today, it has several automotive testing systems on the market that can be found in research and development labs for engine and powertrain testing, EV battery testing labs, race car powertrain testing facilities, and other sites. 


Video used courtesy of Unico


In its EV business segment, the company sells a range of products serving different engineering and testing needs, including battery cyclers, battery simulators/emulators, universal inverters for electric motor testing, and an electric motor emulator and dynamometer drive. Its customers use its drives and controls for testing transmission and chassis dynamometers, battery pack emulators, axle dynamometers, onboard charging systems, grid fast charging, safety/security, and other applications. 


Unico’s battery emulator for electric vehicle applications.

Unico’s battery emulator for electric vehicle applications. Image used courtesy of Unico


In 2022, Unico unveiled a silicon carbide (SiC) drive system for EV powertrain testing for customers developing traction inverters and electric motors that spin 25,000 rotations per minute or more. Its SiC MOSFET transistors can produce high-frequency AC waveforms superior to competing systems. 

Serving the broader car market beyond EVs, Unico offers an Engine Dyno Drive that can be used with several engine-testing dynamometer applications. The AC flux vector drive runs on software built for testing conventional internal combustion engines (ICEs) for engine power and emissions. The company also provides a Transmission Dyno Drive system for engine components, torque transducers, motors, and more uses. It can be used in ICE-based vehicles or hybrid and all-electric cars. 

Beyond its automotive segment, Unico also extends its speed drives, controls, and other products to oil and gas industry customers, alongside coil processing lines, paper converting applications, and metal forming, blanking, and stamping manufacturing.