We present a progress review on the advance of distance measurements made at KAIST by making use of mode-locked lasers as the light source to meet ever-growing industrial demands on the measurement precision and functionality. Diverse principles exploited for the progress are described in this review with focus on four attributes: first, the optical spectrum of a mode-locked laser, distinctively called the frequency comb, permits multi-wavelength interferometry to be realized for absolute distance measurement up to several meters without losing the nanometer precision of well-established laser-based phase-measuring displacement measurement. Second, the frequency comb enables spectrally resolved interferometry for absolute distance measurement to be conducted with a nanometer resolution by Fourier transform analysis of the dispersive interference data captured using a spectrometer. Third, the mode-locked laser in the time domain appears as a train of ultrashort pulses, of which the time-of-flight is measured with a picosecond resolution by control of the pulse repetition rate with reference to the radio-frequency atomic clock. Fourth, the pulse-to-pulse cross-correlation occurring in the optical frequency domain is down-converted to the radio-frequency domain to achieve femtosecond pulse timing precision by means of dual-comb interference. All these principles based on unique spectral and temporal characteristics of ultrashort mode-locked lasers are anticipated to make contributions to the advance of nanotechnology particularly in manufacturing and metrology.