Social robotics is a thriving field in building artificial agents. The possibility to construct agents that can engage in meaningful social interaction with humans presents new challenges for engineers. In general, social robotics has been inspired primarily by psychologists with the aim of building human-like robots. Only a small subcategory of "companion robots" (also referred to as robotic pets) was built to mimic animals. In this opinion essay we argue that all social robots should be seen as companions and more conceptual emphasis should be put on the inter-specific interaction between humans and social robots. This view is underlined by the means of an ethological analysis and critical evaluation of present day companion robots. We suggest that human-animal interaction provides a rich source of knowledge for designing social robots that are able to interact with humans under a wide range of conditions.
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