SCOTTISH Enterprise has been ridiculed for a “bonkers” suggestion that a fleet of driverless cars loaded with fruit and veg could help tackle the nation’s dreadful diet.
The quango suggested in an online article that driverless cars could be used as “autonomous stores” to deliver healthy food to doorsteps.
Trials are already underway in the US to use the controversial vehicles to deliver fresh produce direct to consumers via a mobile phone app.
Writing on their website, Scottish Enterprise said: “It won’t be long before Scotland is on the delivery route, and they could prove especially beneficial to people living in rural areas.
“Self-driving delivery vans and grocery stores look set to make life easier for the Scottish consumer, and potentially improve the health of the nation.
“It could pay dividends by offering customers the ability to choose the fresh produce they want, rather than having it picked by someone else.
“Being able to supply and cover large rural areas in Scotland could benefit all communities in a sustainable way.”
The article was accompanied by a picture of a Robomart driverless car, filled with racks of fruit and veg.
The idea quickly prompted hilarity online with Abi Mordin writing: “Imagine seeing that chugging round the streets of Govan.”
Bill Loban, the Convener of the Highland Council, was even more scathing.
He said: “It’s absolutely bonkers.
“The Highlands is an area larger than Belgium with a sparse population so I think that this idea, at least in the foreseeable future, is nothing more than a pipe dream.”
Cllr Loban said the article made “exaggerated claims regarding autonomous vehicles especially considering the problems that have been encountered with initial trials in the US”.
“We are a long way off completely autonomous vehicles delivering goods in the Highlands,” he said.
Matthew Reiss , councillor for Thurso and Northwest Caithness, was also doubtful, saying: “If these vehicles gave the opportunity for local farmers to market their produce to customers I think many people would be interested in it.
“However, a lot of older people would probably say you couldn’t really beat the likes of a local fish supplier going round and selling their goods.”
In 2016, 65% of adults aged 16 and over in Scotland were overweight – including 29% who were obese.
Last year the Scottish Government launched a new diet and obesity strategy – aiming to curb portion sizes in takeaways and restaurants, and cut down on multi-buy offers on high calorie snacks.
In March this year an autonomous Uber car killed a woman in the street in Arizona – in the first fatal crash involving a pedestrian in the US.
The self-driving car was in autonomous mode when it crashed into the woman who was walking outside of the crosswalk and later die in hospital. There was a vehicle operator inside the car at the time of the crash.
A spokeswoman for Scottish Enterprise said: “Innovation is key to sustainable, competitive growth and Scottish Enterprise is committed to supporting ambitious businesses to innovate and embrace market opportunity.”