Free-Space Optical Channel Turbulence Prediction: A Machine Learning Approach

Channel turbulence presents a formidable obstacle for free-space optical (FSO) communication. Anticipation of turbulence levels is highly important for mitigating disruptions. We study the application of machine learning (ML) to FSO data streams to rapidly predict channel turbulence levels with no additional sensing hardware. An optical bit stream was transmitted through a controlled channel in the lab under six distinct turbulence levels, and the efficacy of using ML to classify turbulence levels was examined. ML-based turbulence level classification was found to be >98% accurate with multiple ML training parameters, but highly dependent upon the timescale of changes between turbulence levels.

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