Automan was inspired by Steven Lisberger's film Tron, which had come out a year earlier. In order not to seem to be plagiarizing Tron, Glen A. Larson involved Donald Kushner, who had been an operating producer of Tron, and his partner, Peter Locke, as operating producers of Automan.
Although similar in appearance, the special effects used to create the Automan look were completely different from the hand-painted effects used in Tron. Automan cinematographer Charles "Chuck" Barbee reports that what they actually did was use reflective material and portable projectors, though the end result looks simply like some kind of blue/green screen chromakey overlay.
Automan (the "Automatic Man") follows the adventures of a police officer and computer programmer named Walter Nebicher (Desi Arnaz, Jr.), who had created an artificially intelligent crime fighting program that generated a hologram (Chuck Wagner) able to leave the computer world and fight crime.
While in the real world, Automan posed as a government agent by the name of "Otto J. Mann." This was a secret to all except Walter's close associate, Roxanne Caldwell (Heather McNair).
Cursor was his sidekick, a floating, shifting polyhedron which could "draw" and generate physical objects as needed. Cursor could only "draw" one object at a time. Exceptions to this included conventional clothing to hide Automan's unusual glowing body and various vehicles with glowing blue piping. The most common forms taken were a car (Auto Car), plane, and helicopter, all of which could defy the laws of physics such as making a 90 degree turn.