This idea could work, but with a complicated idea to help make it simpler would be to say, add in if not already, (Do not have the expansions) a 2nd star system or more.
Now even with some systems being bigger then others which might find this ideas useful as well. In small ones it might get to be very complicated over what the idea really is, saying the idea is advanced, also complicated. It would be one to explore though, It would as incline if not already present with expansions and patches, hopefully good patches. layered planes in planet orbits, would find this to be easier to use and have, so there could be some more auto work invovled, but yet more ways to use manually as put in the inital post of thread. To help possible offset further usesto this idea onto putting the other into use, would be to have it be building specific outside it. And units use with buildings accordingly. And with Ships could put as lvls of whatever use, which so far would be fairly suitable , given the understanding of complexity with the intial idea, but adding more.
The complex part in some degree with whats been said perhaps, trying to think of more apparent ones then others, would be jump lanes. Could be Random to keep a balance of shift in gameplay, or specific, and as in specific, user selected lvling or automated. lvl 1 2 3 etc.
Combat should stay the same and moving either way cause the units moving accordingly. Ususally around each other and moving up down away from things to move either one way to or from something. But once again, more user input. At times if allowed to explore the new use.
Back to the idea at hand.
With it to me at least, maybe with others as well. The idea fits in larger systems if not multi-systems. Cause probably using smaller bigger ships then normal could be also a more appealing idea to this one, over just using regular trade ships, given size and amount and it being too a complete point of being automated.
So to automated some part of it to add in an additional economic element into the current economic system, to be more user friendly maybe without complication with intergration, having say such ships to be used for this could be larger or be built as a flotila (probably didnt spell that right) Thinking of it now, even on a smaller system idea, could be more useful then i was previously thinking. Think just one ship maybe two, or a flotila of ships when any are selected all are, The catch(on a good note) would be possible loading feature into a dock of some sort or entering some station, could have some pattern, maybe slightly different then the current trade ships. When docking to trade port or a different one.
Might make it even park along side the planet and send ships down or too the trade port with normal trade ships.
Its possibly a decent idea, but yet still an advanced or more complicated one to work with, but ifyour gameplay suits then it should work. Economics is always interesting to explore, especially in title like this here, where economics can be vast or small, most Space ones usually have a decent dynamic enocomic system to some point from the ones i have played. Some make it its' own game, some dont, it's another aspect of it that can or cannot be explored.
A good idea though.