In short: Houston, Texas was the planned site of a new robot brothel by Canadian company KinkySDollS, but that brothel has been put on hold, according to local media. Improper permitting has stopped the continued construction of the brothel. According to reports, KinkySDollS will now need to undo all of the existing construction and then apply for and obtain the necessary permits. There's technically no law against such an establishment, so even if moral opposition is present, these are the only real legal grounds upon which the city or any other authority can stop or even delay the business.
Background: The delicate balancing act of AI, advanced robotics and human sexuality is a touchy subject at the best of times, but in this particular case, a number of local residents came together to voice their displeasure. A nonprofit called Elijah Rising managed to collect 12,000 signatures from people across the city standing in opposition to the project. As it stands, there are already robot brothels in many places worldwide, such as the one that KinkySDollS operates in its hometown of Ontario. Moral qualms and the parties that have them notwithstanding, the only thing really standing between KinkySDollS and opening this shop is the time and money it would take to tear down the current building, get the right permits, then rebuild and open it up.
Impact: Should KinkySDollS decide to actually comply with the orders and obtain proper permitting, the stage will be set for the company to build the first robot brothel in the United States. To be clear, it's not hard to obtain a robotic sex doll right now, for the right price, but the proposed shop would be the first site in the states where guests could also rent them, and that builds into an important distinction. The AI that powers these robots is generally not too sophisticated, and is either programmed to go through a routine or respond to rote cues. Where the average interested person may not have the funds on hand to purchase a more realistic robot that might have more advanced AI on board thanks to dedicated hardware and software, a shop like this one might. While there are certainly moral concerns to address, it's quite clear that the presence of robot brothels in a booming tech market like the United States could potentially be a driver for the development of more humanlike, emotional AI. These could in turn be put to a large number of uses beyond a more empathetic synthetic companion for the night. That point aside, it could also drive the development and adoption of more advanced robotics techniques and hardware to better mimic human movement.