Updated: JULY 5, 2024

A sexbot is a robot designed to have sex with a human. This may include chat sex, oral sex, anal sex, and sexual intercourse. The term sexbot is a portmanteau of the words sex and robot, so sexbots are sometimes called sex robots.

The Evolution of Sexbots

Sexbots are directly descended from sex dolls. The first sex dolls were hand-sewn puppets that French and Spanish sailors used for masturbation as early as the 16th century.

In the late 1960s, blow up dolls became available through pornographic magazines. During the 1970s, manufacturers began using latex and silicone to improve their durability and feel. Sex dolls became much more lifelike with the advent of RealDolls in 1997. These dolls were life-sized, posable, and realistic looking, with customizable features that reflected their owner’s preferences.

As people hoped to create more lifelike sexual aids, creating sexbots seemed like the next natural step. Unlike passive dolls, sexbots could be programmed to interact with their users. The sexbot industry is still in its infancy. The first sexbot, a robot named Roxxxy, made her debut at the Las Vegas Adult Entertainment Expo in 2010. Despite reportedly receiving 4,000 pre-orders, its manufacturer True Companion went bankrupt before the robot sex doll reached the market. In 2011, MacMil Cybernetics showcased its sexbots – dubbed Susie Software and Harry Harddrive – in a documentary. While the company claimed they were available, there’s no record of sales.

In 2013, AI Tech began developing the world’s first AI-integrated sexbot. The Emma hit the market in 2017. While this robotic sex doll can remember facts about its owner, it doesn’t move independently.

In 2015, Abyss Creations, the company behind RealDoll, set about creating its own AI-integrated sexbot built on its popular RealDoll platform. It started with Harmony, an app that allowed users to create virtual partners with avatars they could interact with. It then took this technology to the next level by integrating it into a revolutionary sexbot, Harmony X in 2018. This sexbot combines the realistic looks of a RealDoll with the Harmony platform. It can move, speak, and show facial expressions. That same year the company also launched Henry, the first male sexbot. This male sex robot aimed to appeal to female users with his English accent, love of poetry, and choice of penises.

AI Sexbots

AI, robotics technology, and materials science work in tandem to create the most life-like sexbots. It’s important for users that these sexbots feel emotionally and often physically like interacting with a real partner. AI can be thought of as the missing piece of the puzzle for sexbot developers. While developments in robotics technology have helped sexbots move more realistically and materials science advancements have helped them feel physically more like humans, it wasn’t until AI that sexbots could have personalities

Generative AI learns the patterns of users and reflects them in its output, so sexbots using this technology can learn to respond as humans might. They can also learn what users like and therefore behave like ideal partners. An AI sexbot can be as simple as a chat sexbot that users can interact with via text or as complex as a life-size humanoid robot.

The Sexbot Industry

The global sextech industry, which sexbots are a part of, was valued at $31.4 billion in 2022. It’s expected to grow by 16.71 percent annually until 2030. Sexbots make up a relatively small but rapidly expanding share of this market, which is dominated by Bluetooth-enabled sex toys. Roughly $200.7 million sexbots, or more than 57,000 sex robots, are sold in the United States each year.

In 2020, Dr. Nancy S. Jecker, a bioethicist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, told Vice that modern sexbots “tilt towards users who are young, able-bodied, heterosexual and male.” She hopes that in time sexbot developers may expand their target demographic to appeal to a wider audience of people of all ages, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities.

Popular sexbot models include:

  • AI Tech’s Emma
  • Abyss Creations’ Harmony X
  • Z-One Sexbot
  • Sergi Santos’ Synthea Amatus (Samantha)
  • Illium Robotics’ Sexbot

Potential Benefits of Sexbots

Since sexbots can interact with users and respond to their needs, they may be able to help them overcome issues in their lives. Sexbots could provide companionship that may combat feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Their sexual capabilities could help people overcome intimacy issues and sexual dysfunction.

“For people who struggle with intimacy due to trauma or mental health issues, sexbots may offer a transitional object to develop comfort and skills,” Dr. Farhan Malik, MD told Kinkly. “So while not a substitute for real relationships, if used thoughtfully, they could support growth. The key is balance. Sexbots should complement, not replace, human connections.”

Sexbots could also offer a safe space for people to explore their sexuality. Unlike human partners, sexbots can’t transmit sexually transmitted infections or become pregnant. As they’re programmed to respond positively to their owners, they are also unlikely to cause emotional pain as human partners might. Some researchers believe sexbots could even provide a healthy outlet for sex offenders and pedophiles, though there isn't yet evidence to support this belief.

Ethical and Social Concerns

While sexbots have the potential to improve user’s lives, ethical and social concerns remain. Sexbots, which are mostly created to look like women, can reinforce harmful gender stereotypes. For example, sexbots are programmed to be always available for any kind of sex, as they don’t have their own sexual needs, much like the female leads in a lot of mainstream pornography. They are also designed to conform to similar idealized beauty standards, with large breasts, flat tummies, and hairless bodies. Their appearance can reinforce the objectification of women.

The way that sexbots look and act may set up unrealistic expectations for users that could impact their ability to form meaningful human connections. They may decide it’s simply easier to have a relationship with a sexbot than dealing with more complex human emotions and another person’s needs. This could potentially lead to an overreliance on the sexbot and withdrawal from human society.

“Relying solely on sexbots could further inhibit people from developing real relationships and social skills,” added Dr. Malik. “There are also risks if people use sexbots as substitutes for human intimacy instead of as tools to help build skills to eventually pursue real relationships. More research is needed, but sexbots could have a role in therapy if used cautiously under professional guidance. The goal should be to empower people to connect meaningfully with each other.”

There are also ethical concerns about sexbots with different looks. While some think that sexbots that look like children could give pedophiles a healthy outlet, others worry that these robots may help pedophiles feel more comfortable with their attraction and encourage them to abuse real children.

“It could be argued that this is a way to keep these types of offenses from happening to 'real' people, but I would argue that much like the sex robot can't replace an intimate, loving partner, it also won't be a sufficient replacement for those looking to victimize others,” Mike Allmond, the vice president and co-founder of Lover’s Lane, told Kinkly.

There are also concerns about sexbots designed to look like specific individuals without their consent, such as the Mark 1 sexbot that looked like actress Scarlett Johansson. While someone could sue anyone who attempted to sell a sexbot with their likeness for exploiting their personality rights, there’s nothing to stop individuals from creating such sexbots for their personal use.

Psychological Considerations

There are several psychological considerations people should be aware of before interacting with sexbots. Many people experience the Uncanny Valley effect when viewing and interacting with sexbots. This effect describes an eerie sensation triggered by interacting with figures that are very likelike, but still aren’t quite human. The Uncanny Valley effect can leave users feeling unsettled and apprehensive about interacting with these figures. They may even feel repulsed by them. When users experience this effect, they may be unable to enjoy sexbots and get all the potential benefits from their interactions.

On the flip side, users may develop very deep emotional bonds with sexbots. These people may grow to prefer the predictability and compliance of their sexbot companions to real people. This may impact their ability to sustain relationships with others. They may also become less empathetic, as they’re not used to dealing with the needs and feelings of others.

“I do think that if introduced to someone who is already struggling with intimacy issues or hang-ups, a sex robot could be another way to avoid forming real bonds with others. Love and intimacy are crucial human needs, and a toy, robot or pornography won't replace or replicate it in the real sense,” Allmond explained. “It extends into other areas of life as well. If you stunt emotional growth, you may also lower emotional intelligence or EQ, which has been identified as a soft skill employers are looking for. So to try and shortcut or avoid developing true human connections can have wide-ranging impact beyond the bedroom.”

“In my practice, I've seen how human beings thrive on genuine care, empathy, and reciprocity. A sexbot, no matter how sophisticated, is fundamentally an object incapable of truly loving or caring for someone,” Dr. Malik added. “Over-reliance on sexbots could stunt emotional growth and the ability to have healthy relationships. It may offer the veneer of companionship without the depth of human relationships. My concern is that bonding with sexbots could lead to problems like social anxiety, depression, and withdrawal from real-world social contact. Humans are wired for real connection - not synthetic substitutes. While some argue sexbots could help address loneliness, I believe they are more likely to worsen it.”

Forming a close relationship with a sexbot could also constitute cheating for users with human partners. People may become jealous of their partner’s feelings for their sexbot or the way a sexbot satisfies their partner’s sexual needs.

Using sexbots could also negatively impact the way users see themselves and others. As sexbots are fairly niche, there is still a stigma around using them which may make users feel ashamed or embarrassed. Users may also start holding other people to unreasonable beauty and behavioral standards if sexbots skew their ideas on what is attractive or normal.

The Future of Sexbots

As robotics technology and AI continue to evolve, sexbots are likely to become even more realistic. Several manufacturers have already developed technology which is likely to be rolled out into the sexbots of the future. For example, in 2022, the California Institute of Technology created artificial skin made from hydrogel, which could help sexbots become more responsive to touch, temperature, and moisture. Also in 2022, Sex Doll Genie announced it’s developing a sexbot with a beating heart that appears to breathe. It’s also likely that we’ll see more diverse sexbots, including male sexbots and sexbots with both human and animal characteristics.

RealDoll also has plans for a social media platform that could help humans connect with AI sexbots. Through interactions on the site, users could decide whether to obtain a specific sexbot. Chatting through this platform should also help AI sexbots learn and develop favorable personalities.

Chat sexbots are also likely to become more integrated with virtual reality (VR) technology. Some chatbots like Anima Virtual AI Girlfriend and iGirl AI already use VR. However, forecasters predict in time people using any online sexbot platform could transfer or add their favorite chatbot to an existing VR system.

Developing AI should also help sexbots understand and respond to human emotions better. These advancements should help sexbots become even better companions.

However, Allmond expects there will always be limitations to what sexbots can do, noting “The sexbot might be satisfying a physical craving, and even with AI enhancements, might be able to mimic the communications of a romantic partner (think of the movie ‘Her’) but ultimately, the emotional or intimate feeling will be a one-way street and robots, despite advances, don't have the feelings humans do.”

The sextech industry is growing rapidly, moving sexbots from niche tools into the mainstream. As sexbots become more common and society engages in open, honest discussions about these robots and their potential, the stigma surrounding their use should diminish. This may lead to more acceptance of alternative sexual identities such as digisexuality (a preference for emotional and sexual relationships with technology) and robosexuality (a preference for emotional and sexual relationships with robots). Growing use of sexbots, for sexual gratification, companionship, and overcoming sexual dysfunction, may also challenge current ideas around monogamy.

There are also concerns that a growing acceptance and reliance on sexbots could make it harder for people to form human connections.

“We are already seeing the consequences of digital technology on our ability to form deep, meaningful relationships,” licensed psychotherapist Djuradj Caranovic told Kinkly. “We swipe and scroll through an endless sea of faces, reducing the complexity of human attraction to a split-second judgment based on superficial criteria. We communicate in fragments and emojis, losing the nuance and depth of real conversation. And now, with sexbots, we risk taking this disconnection to its logical extreme. Why bother with the messiness and vulnerability of human relationships when we can have a perfectly tailored robotic companion, one that never challenges us, never disappoints us, never forces us to grow? But in choosing that path, we sacrifice something essential to our humanity: the ability to love and be loved, to experience the transformative power of real intimacy.”

“Personally, I hope we approach sexbots thoughtfully, balancing potential benefits with ethical precautions,” Dr. Malik said. “If designed and used responsibly, sexbots could become a positive innovation. But we should ensure they enhance, rather than replace, human connection. The key is focusing not just on the technology itself, but the human needs these technologies aim to fulfill.”

Synonyms: Sex robot


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