2. A mechanical device, operated electronically, and which functions automatically, without continuous input from an operator.
3. The act of automating something, or the state of being automated.
This word was coined in 1936 by D.S. Harder, a Generl Motors employee, but it didn't come into popular use until around the 1950s. Harder defined automation as the "automatic handling of parts between progressive production processes," but one of the current definitions is "the technique or system of operating a mechanical or productive device by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices"; as well as, those shown above.
Based on information from Word and Phrase Origins
2. The self-moving transfer of one unit of a complex industrial assembly to a succession of machines, each of which completes another stage in a manufacturing process: Modern automobile companies are using more automation than were used decades ago.
2. A person who acts in a mechanical or machinelike way: Hans was behaving like an unfeeling automaton.
Lorena's uncle was so surprised to see what the new automation was able to do, that he was moving like an automaton; that is, moving as if he were in a daze of amazement.