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I would say that's an error in the documentation, since friction coefficient can be greater than 1 depending on the surface (it shouldn't be negative though).

ODE takes the minimum of the two surface friction coefficients when objects come in contact, so I think the rationale is that the ground plane should have a large friction coefficient so that it isn't a limiting factor, since a lower friction coefficient can be accommodated by specifying a smaller value on the bottom of a robot foot, for example.

You can also set the gravity vector to have a non-zero lateral component to simulate an inclined plane. That's what we do in this friction test world.

Did that make sense?