In the future, solar flares make the earths surface radioactive, killing many people. People build robots, the Automatas, to help them rebuild in harsh environments. The robots have two inalterable protocols: the first obliges them to preserve human life; the second limits them from fixing themselves. Jacq works as insurance claim checker for the company that makes the robots, ROC. One day he investigates a report from a cop Wallace who shot a robot claiming it was fixing itself and looked alive. The next day He follows a robot which was stealing parts, and when Jacq find it hiding outside the walls, it intentionally burns itself. He takes the burned robots brain core. Jacqs friend Robert tells him that there might be someone, a clockmaster, who somehow succeeded to alter the second protocol.
Jacq shares this with Wallace. He brings him to a place with robots as prostitutes. When Jacq shares that he need to contact a clockmaster, the cop shoots at the hostess robot Cleo, saying it will lure Cleos clockmaster. Jacq meets Cleos clockmaster Dr. Dupre but gets no valuable info, so he leaves the parts he found to her. The next day however, Dupre called Jacq and showed that Cleo began repairing herself after she installed the used core in her. Jacq messages Robert about it, but ROC intercepts it and sends a hit squad to kill them. Dupre dies but Jacq hops into the car as Cleo escapes with it. Jacq wakes up the next morning in the radioactive area with two other robots. They dont obey his command to take him to the city, but the first protocol makes them carry him with them and save him from dehydration.
At a canyons cable car station, Jacq meets another robot. After a philosophical talk with him Jacq surrenders a nuclear battery that the robots need. They use it to build an insect-like robot. ROC forces Robert to track Jacq with their henchmen. Unable to find him, they kidnapped Jacqs wife and newborn daughter, and shot Robert as he disagrees with it. Meanwhile, the robots have repaired a truck for Jacq so he can return to the city. But Jacq goes back to the robots place after finding the dying Robert and knowing his family is in danger. The henchmen find the robots place and kill two of them dead and damages Cleo. Jacq arrives and crashes the truck killing two henchmen, but at last hes cornered by the lead henchman Vernon. The insect robot comes and emits a sound that pushes Vernon off the canyon cliff to his death. Jacq reunites with his family and Cleo thanks him.