Sex robots in care: Setting the stage for a discussion on the potential use of sexual robot technologies for persons with disabilities

Eduard Fosch-Villaronga, Adam Poulsen

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
191 Downloads (Pure)


Although every human should enjoy physical touch, intimacy, and sexual pleasure, persons with disabilities are often not in the position to fully experience the joys of life in the same manner as abled people. The United Nations stated in 1993 that persons with disabilities should enjoy family life and personal integrity and should not be denied the opportunity to experience their sexuality, have sexual relationships, and experience parenthood. However, after nearly 30 years of discussion, universal access to sexual and reproductive health remains an unfinished agenda for the disabled, as if society failed in recognizing people with disabilities as sexual beings. In this respect, a growing body of scholars have started to explore the idea of using technology to help disabled people satisfy some of these needs, although not without controversy. In concrete, ideas surrounding the use of robots for sex care purposes have been put forward, as service robots performing actions contributing directly towards improvement in the satisfaction of a user's sexual needs. This paper continues to explore the potential use of these robots in disability care for sex care purposes, including for those with physical and mental health disabilities, which is currently underexplored. Our contribution seeks to understand whether sex robots could serve as a step forward in realizing the sexual rights of persons with disabilities. By building on a conceptual analysis of how sex robots could empower persons with disabilities to exercise their sexual rights, we hope to inform the policy debate around robots' regulation and governance and set the scene for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHRI '21 Companion
Subtitle of host publicationCompanion of the 2021 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction
Place of PublicationNew York, United States
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781450382908
Publication statusPublished - 08 Mar 2021
Event2021 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction: HRI 2021 Virtual - Virtual, Boulder, United States
Duration: 09 Mar 202111 Mar 2021 (Conference website) (Conference proceedings) (Conference schedule)

Publication series

NameACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction
ISSN (Electronic)2167-2148


Conference2021 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction
Abbreviated titleBolder Human-Robot Interaction
Country/TerritoryUnited States
OtherHRI 2021 is the 16th annual conference for basic and applied human-robot interaction research. Researchers from across the world present their best work to HRI to exchange ideas about the theory, technology, data, and science furthering the state-of-the-art in human-robot interaction.
Each year, the HRI Conference highlights a particular area through a theme. The theme of HRI 2021 is “Bolder Human-Robot Interaction.”
The HRI conference is a highly selective annual international conference that aims to showcase the very best interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research in human-robot interaction with roots in and broad participation from communities that include but are not limited to robotics, artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, human factors, design, and social and behavioral sciences.
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