The market for sex robots is growing fast - but a new scientific paper casts doubt on the social and health benefits of the technology.
The predominantly female robots offer sexual gratification with a number of orifices and cost thousands of pounds.
These dolls often have the look of a younger female, with petite figures but large breasts.
The thriving £23 billion sex tech industry has been dominated by the arrival of sex dolls and sex robots, but their benefits have been overstated, according to new research.
Experts have hit out at "speculative" claims made by their marketing about the social and health benefits provided by the anthropomorphic dolls.
Questions over the benefits
It has been claimed that they offer paedophiles a safe release, while having the potential to eliminate sex trafficking and tourism, prostitution and encourage safer sex.
Authors of an editorial published in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health have poured cold water on that idea with extensive research failing to unearth any evidence to back those assertions.
Sex robots have become increasingly popular (Photo: Shutterstock)
While the authors noted that the dolls could aid some relationship difficulties, largely the device has a negative affect, and could even help to “normalise sexual deviancy”.
"The overwhelming predominant market for sexbots will be unrelated to healthcare," they write.
"Thus the ‘health’ arguments made for their benefits, as with so many advertised products, are rather specious.
"Currently, the ‘precautionary principle’ should reject the clinical use of sexbots until their postulated benefits, namely ’harm limitation' and ’therapy', have been tested empirically."
Sex doll brothels
The sex robot industry has witnessed huge growth in the last year.
The Foundation for Responsible Robotics found that there are already sex doll brothels in Asia, while a Terminator-style robot head who can speak, smile and even sing has been mooted by a doll company - seen as the next step by sex robot developers.
A man was arrested in the UK last year after a childlike sex doll he ordered was intercepted at Stansted airport and led to child abuse images being discovered on his computer.
In Scotland, the UK's first sex doll brothel was shut down in February after complaints from neighbours.
The authors of the latest study accept that the popularity of sex robots is unlikely to be affected by their findings:
"Absent evidence of efficacy of both therapeutic value and sexual satisfaction will hardly dampen market forces.
"Potential profits and rising demand will incentivise companies to produce cheaper sexbots. Technological advances will drive competition to create the most affordable but desirable model."