Re: The more I study AI the more ot looks like conciousness is essential to it.
It seems that the best way to know what leg to move forward next uses a simulation of a simple model of the mechanisms involved to help predict what to do next in the current environment.
Having worked a little in robotics, it turns out that that's a really, really bad way to "know what leg to move forward next", and almost certainly not the way you (or any other walking organism) does it. The idea that to interact successfully with the world an organism maintains an explicit "internal model" of its own mechanisms (and of the external environment) is 1980s thinking, which hit a brick wall decades ago - think of those clunky old robots that clomp one foot in front of the other and then fall over, and compare how you actually walk.
In biological systems, interaction of an organism with its environment is far more inscrutable than that (that's why robotics is so hard), involving tightly-coupled feedback loops between highly-integrated neural, sensory and motor systems.