Aim: The aim of this paper is to present the current state of knowledge on the reconnaissance of contamination in the automatic system by unmanned means.

Introduction: The hypothetical threat of contamination in the territory of the Republic of Poland (RP) is growing. This threat may be caused by technological disasters and technical failures in industrial plants (including nuclear power plants) and also uncontrolled releases of highly toxic chemicals during transport, and in some cases, which cannot be ruled out, also by terrorism. This work introduces the dilemmas of the contamination reconnaissance system of the Polish Armed Forces, mainly their technical and organisational elements. It presents technical studies that have been used in NATO armies for the automated reconnaissance (detection) of contaminations. The basic operation of the system for the performance of its tasks is proposed. The implementation of automated systems would significantly increase the effectiveness of the Reconnaissance System of the Polish Armed Forces (SWS SZ RP), but also of other civil functional subsystems in the National Alert and Detection System (KSWSiA). Automated recognition systems have many advantages such as there being no need to expose staff to contamination and high mobility.

Conclusions: There is a real threat that the territory of the Republic of Poland could become contaminated through the uncontrolled release of highly toxic chemicals from over 400 industrial plants that could be potential sources of major failures. Releases to the environment may be caused by natural factors (e.g. hurricanes, floods, earthquakes) or by unintentional (e.g. human error) or deliberate (e.g. act of terrorism) human activity. This analysis should not ignore threats posed by nuclear reactors located near the borders of the Republic of Poland and by pathogens. The Contamination Detection System of the Polish Armed Forces is incompatible in procedural terms with analogous solutions existing in NATO member states. In these countries it is preferable to use automated systems based on the latest technological developments, while in the Polish Armed Forces the systems employed are manually operated and obsolete. CBRN information management should be not only an instructional record, but a real element of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence (CBRN Defence) system. The task involving risk assessment and forecasting should be an anticipatory task based on present inventory levels in plants and contribute to planning the deployment of the elements of the Contamination Detection System. The contamination reconnaissance system, modelled on the basis of the solutions available in NATO armies, should employ automatic means such as lidar, drones and robots or their joint implementation – drones with lidar, robots with lidar or dropped micro-pallets (with a set of sensors and a signal analysis and alerting system) with a specific service life (e.g. 24 h) – such as the US Organic Air Vehicle.

Keywords: contamination reconnaissance, unmanned systems

Type of article: review article