Measuring difference in position, aka distance between two points
"...mount small aluminum foil "flags" on a low - friction bearing (say a length of fine thread) [to the side of a fan] and photodetectors to sense the position of the foil. When the robot approaches an obstruction, the wind will be reflected back and move the foil flags."
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<A HREF="http://techref.massmind.org/Techref/io/sensor/posdif.htm"> Proximity Sensors</A>
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