On April 29, 2023, a TikTok account shared a video clip supposedly showing a robot doing a backflip and demonstrating martial arts fighting moves.
The clip quickly went viral on other platforms, including Twitter, where a user wrote: "I DO NOT LIKE WHERE THIS IS GOING." The video attached to the tweet had already garnered 2.5 million views, as of this writing.
Another Twitter user wrote: "Politicians are focusing on crypto regulation, meanwhile robots and AI building essential skills to take over the planet. Boston Dynamics robots now have martial arts and fighting skills. What could go wrong…"
The robot appears strikingly similar to Atlas, a humanoid robot created by Boston Dynamics, a robotics design company. The company terms Atlas "the most dynamic humanoid robot."
However, as of this writing, Boston Dynamics does not have a TikTok channel, contrary to what a caption on the video clip claimed. In fact, the actual handle on the supposed "Boston Dynamics" TikTok account from which this video came is @Botsom_Dynamics.
Nor could Snopes find any video matching the one above on Boston Dynamics' website or Boston Dynamics' YouTube channel, where it has posted so many other videos of Atlas and the company's other creations. We reached out to the company with questions about the authenticity of this video but did not receive a response.
By viewing some of the actual Boston Dynamics videos, we were able to confirm that Atlas robots are indeed capable of performing some of the skills displayed in the TikTok video. For example, the robots can do acrobatic stunts such as backflips.
"Both (robots) landed two perfectly synchronized backflips, and the video team has captured every move," wrote Boston Dynamics in a blog on its website on Aug. 17, 2021. In a video posted by the company the same day, two robots were seen doing backflips, among other activities. (The backflips occur around the 44-second mark in the video.)
Comparing the TikTok video to a Boston Dynamics video also allowed us to check the visual appearance of the robots in both to see if they match. They do not. The robot in the TikTok video is roughly similar at first glance, but the smaller details vary considerably. Moreover, the TikTok robot appears much simpler in design.
Based on the available evidence, we conclude that the TikTok video of the "fighting robot" was a digital fabrication, and thus this claim is "False."