When automating tasks involving text, NLP techniques are definitely the way to go! Let me be frank, though, starting from scratch and "read and understand" will be harder with today's tools than directly reading the papers.
Some typical required skills are below, and the bar height will depend on your mileage:
- Knowledge of NLP (e.g. terminology like embeddings, bag of words, even perhaps tf-idf).
- Knowledge of NLP libraries and implementation frameworks (e.g. Stanford's or TensorFlow).
- Knowledge of a programming language (e.g. Python or Java).
In short, the goal you set will probably require many more papers than expected. But if you succeed only the automated reading / summary part, you have a bright future ahead (let aside understanding, a way more contentious problem).
Just for the sake of putting an example, companies like Iris.ai and others try to solve related problems---great potential, but definitely challenging.