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Hi IndianaJones,
Good luck with your project! There are a number of sensors that you can use to measure distance. The Parallax PING uses ultrasound and is fine for detecting obstacles up to ~10 feet away. For longer range you could try interfacing a laser distance measuring tool to a Prop. Something like this: … 671265-_-x

Make sure you get a true "Laser" measure, and not a sonic one that just uses a laser to draw a dot.