Low-friction foot/ground contacts present a particular challenge for stable bipedal walkers. The slippage of the stance foot introduces complexity in robot dynamics and the general locomotion stability results cannot be applied directly. We relax the commonly used assumption of non-slip contact between the walker foot and the ground and examine bipedal dynamics under foot slip. Using a two-mass linear inverted pendulum model, we introduce the concept of balance recoverability and use it to quantify the balanced or fall-prone walking gaits. Balance recoverability also serves as the basis for the design of the balance recovery controller. We design the within- or multi-step recovery controller to assist the walker to avoid fall. The controller performance is validated through simulation results and robustness is demonstrated in the presence of measurement noises as well as variations of foot/ground friction conditions. In addition, the proposed methods and models are used to analyze the data from human walking experiments. The multiple subject experiments validate and illustrate the balance recoverability concept and analyses.

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