A automated futures trading system is a defined set of technical rules and parameters that ultimately determine entry and exit points for a given contract. In the event that all of the stipulated technical events occur, a buy or sell signal is created and a trade is automatically executed without human intervention. Each system is comprised of specific ingredients and circumstances, but they most commonly involve moving averages, stochastics and other computer-generated oscillators.
As you can imagine, the results are highly dependent on how well the rules perform in various market conditions. Accordingly, system developers spend an incredible amount of time optimizing the system to manage risk and increase the odds of profitable results in any environment.