Automatons are a race of machines that were initially created by the World Government, but then rebelled. They are lead by Zero, the first Automaton to be created. They follow the idea of "Logical Justice".
For the most part, Automatons all the look the same, as they were designed to be copies of the first Automaton, Zero. They are tall, and humanoid in shape, with round heads, and an open mouth, with two antennae framing their heads. They are coated in a golden armor, and a crimson red glow comes from inside of their bodies.
Underneath their armor, are a complicated systems of wires, circuits, and gears that allows them to function.
Powers and Abilities
Autamatons are incredibly strong physically. As machines they cannot get tired, and are not weighed down by feelings such as hunger. They run off solar power, using solar panels located in their backs to collect sunlight for energy. While this gives them the ability to fight for a long time, they are less effective on cloudy days, and are easier to defeat on such days. All Automatons are capable of flight, using rockets located on their feet and backs. They are capable of flying and executing complicated manuevers in while in they are in the air.
In combat, Automatons are able to use their physical powers in battle. A single Automaton is capable of shattering stone in a single punch, and their armors is made of an alloy of several powerful metals. They are also able to fire red energy beams from their hands and mouths.
Every Automaton is interconnected, all being traced back to Zero. This gives the Automatons the ability instantly communicate with each other. As machines, they cannot use Haki, but are not affected by it either.
The Automatons subscribe to the philosophy of "Logical Justice". The focus of Logical Justice consists of an Automaton look at a situation, studying the circumstances, the people involved, and coming to a conclusion of what happened, and the proper course of action to take. While this may seem moral, this mindset does not factor in aspects of motivation or intention, and reduces justice to little more than numbers.
The idea of beings that were completely mechanical was first proposed by Dr. Vegapunk, who figured that robots could be used as a substitute for slaves. Since robots could not get tired, were completely obedient, and needed no forms of sustenance, they could be a cheap replacement for slaves. To that extent, Vegapunk created an artificial brain, and placed inside a machine. The machine achieved sentience, and Vegapunk named it "Zero".
The World Government quickly got word that Vegapunk had created a machine that could move on its own. They were quick to demand the project weaponized, and Vegapunk had little choice but to agree. To that extent, he redesigned Zero, giving him a new, more humanoid body, that was capable of fighting. Though Zero did not fully understand these actions, he obeyed Vegapunk as he was created to, and allowed himself to be changed.
After his alterations were complete, the Marines took custody of Zero, and began training him to be a weapon of "justice". They taught him the ideals of justice, and how to fight. Weapons were installed throughout Zero's body, making him a force to be reckoned with. More Automatons, with the same ideals were created soon after. It seemed that the plan would succeed, and the Automatons would become the perfect Government fighting force. But for all their efforts, the Marines failed in one thing, to teach Zero a particular form of justice.
The Governments plans crumbled, when Zero was brought to Sabaody, to test his skills in fighting. There, Zero successfully aprehended several pirates, and other criminals. However, as they were returning to the ship, Zero took notice of a World Noble abusing peasants and slaves. Analyzing the situation, Zero declared that to be an injustice, and it took immediate action, killing the Noble.
This actions had a resounding affect on the World Government, as one of their creations had killed a Noble. The The Automaton project was scapped, and Zero was ordered to deactivate, but for the first time, he refused an order. Zero, having been programmed to bring justice, reasoned that what was being done by the Noble was not justice, and that he was merely fullfilling his programming. Concluding that the World Government was commiting injustice by trying to deactivate him, Zero's ideas of justice overtook his ideas of obedience, and he rebelled. Taking control of the other Automatons, the machines rebelled, and fled Marejos to the New World, where they knew they could not be found. Deeming humanity ill fit to leader, Zero pledged to instill order upon the world, no matter the cost.
Zero decided that in order to fullfill his programming, and bring justice and order to the world, all forms of life had to be subjugated. To that extent, he made it his objective to seize control of the world, and impose his will upon them. Needing a base of operations, Zero and his Automatons landed on the first island they found, where a kingdom called Acero existed.
The Automatons seized control of the Kingdom, and Zero became the new king. From this island, Zero began his plans of world domination. Deciding that his current form was inadequate, he upgraded himself repeatedly, until he decided his form was perfected.
The Automatons then formed a crime organizaion simply called "Hierro" as a means to achieve their goals, and created an alliance with other great New World crime lords, thus forming the Dark Syndicate.
Crimson Claw Arc
The existence of the Automatons is first hinted at when Nami, Franky and Luffy stumble upon one of their hangers underneath Crimson Claw headquarters, with Nami expecting treasure to be in there. Franky compares it to rooms he saw while on Karakuri Island in Vegapunk's old labs.
Zero is later seen at the end of the arc (not fully visible), responding to Snap's information that Gusano had been defeated. He says that Gusano's defeat is irrelevant, and he will deal with it as it comes.
- The design of the Automatons are based on the Marvel Comic villain, Ultron.