Notice how newer cars have an increasing amount of features that take all the 'pain' out of having to bother actually driving the car.
I don't think it'll be long before the first commercially availible production model rolls out, that combines that self-drive with sat. nav. so that you won't be doing much more than selecting the destination. In practice of course there's going to be times when the terrain doesn't quite match the maps, but on major roads that self-drive already is a success.
For a real-life Transformer,
So all that's really needed then is taking the same system of controls that takes the roof on and off while driving, and can raise and lower the car (eg, for speedbumps, reducing / increasing drag) and coming up with a design that lifts the driving area and front end up to nest in such a way upon the back of the vehicle, that the back wheels are doing the driving and are the ones still on the road.
A chopper-style design that already has larger back wheels than front wheels could better take the weight.
Turning them into legs tho' - much more complicated. Think we'll see caterpillar treads that work independently from another first, as the back legs.
Things like VTO&L - that's just cost really isn't it. That can already be done.
A mechanical engine you don't want to be moving that around, hence legs problems - but not problems with the caterpillar treads as described, that would work with a mechanical engine that does not move with the front-end.
Electrical engines tho' - don't need to worry about those being shifted around as long as they stay connected up.
Mecha in the here and now
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