Artificial engines are a series of reciprocating platforms that can be used to transport people from the surface to the lower location of the mine. The power method is usually a waterwheel, although in many cases some kind of steam engine is used. A typical design includes two parallel rods that are lowered and raised in parallel with each other, each of which has multiple evenly spaced platforms for people to stand on. By walking from one platform to another one by one, the shaft can be quickly traversed. These devices were invented in the 1800s and used in the early 20th century.
The waterwheel provided the initial power for the original human engine, and later various steam engine designs were adopted. The wheel or steam engine is connected to a connecting rod, which in turn is connected to two long beams inserted under the mine. Because of the mechanism used to connect the waterwheel to these beams, one will move down when the other moves up. Each platform is spaced a certain distance apart so that it aligns with one platform at the bottom end of the throw and the second platform at the top.
In order to use humans and machines, miners will walk to the platform on the ground. Then, the platform will lower him about 13 feet (four meters), at which time he can step directly on another platform. Repeat this process until the miner reaches the working level. In order to rise back to the surface, the process will be reversed. A variant of this system is to connect a fixed platform to the shaft wall. The miner will jump to one of the platforms, wait for the next platform to arrive, and then step on the platform.