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"As virtual reality becomes more realistic and immersive and is able to mimic and even improve on the experience of sex with a human partner; it is conceivable that some will choose this in preference to sex with a less than perfect human being." Read more: Emotional robot slapped with 'sex ban' and its owners will even have to sign a contract Dr Driscoll adds: "People may also begin to fall in love with their virtual reality partners." It's not a new prediction, but the technology has improved at a quicker rate than may have been expected.Back in 2007, artificial intelligence researcher David Levy from the University of Maastricht told Live Science that people could be marrying robots - and consummating their vows - by 2050.

Dr Driscoll, from the University of Sunderland says that robotic, interactive, motion-sensing technology is likely to become more and more central to the sex industry in the next few years.

Read more: 'World's sexiest robot' steals the spotlight at tech show - but creators say she's not perfect "We tend to think about issues such as virtual reality and robotic sex within the context of current norms.

"But if we think back to the social norms about sex that existed just 100 years ago, it is obvious that they have changed rapidly and radically.

Robophilia may be alien now, but could be normal in the near future as attitudes evolve with technology.

It might sound like the plot of a 1980s sci-fi film - but sex robots may actually be the biggest tech trend of 2016.

The popularity of the artificially human machines has grown directly in tandem with their realism.And not only will people be having intimate relations with them - they may even fall in love with them too.Dr Helen Driscoll, a leading authority on the psychology of sex and relationships, said 'sex tech' was already advancing at a fast pace.Pearson, advances in sex tech will provide opportunities for those that otherwise wouldn't have them.His report marks 2050 as the year that human/robot sex overtakes human/human. Matt Mc Mullen, the CEO of "love doll" manufacturer Real Doll, is busy making a new toy (the first one is called Harmony) that will blink, open its mouth and even have a chat with you.The ultimate aim is to create a doll that appears to behave as if 'she' enjoys the act of sex.