It's also absolutely arbitrary. Why not compare to 8086? The number would be even more dramatic, but it won't tell anyone anything. It is, at least to me, somewhat surprising that they even stress that they need this much processing power.That's not saying very much.
I didn't have this handy at work, but found it pretty quickly from home: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...ternative-route-to-google-s-driverless-future
What that is, is a Bloomberg piece on a company that does driver assistance systems. They also included a link to a TED talk by a Google dude, which is a bit feverish, but does provide a valuable insight into what Google and others do in this space. https://www.ted.com/talks/chris_urmson_how_a_driverless_car_sees_the_road?language=en
I suppose to draw a parallel with popular culture, Google is going along the lines of "Ex machina" and uses Google data (maps, search, social) to augment real time inputs from lasers. Volvo doesn't have the same data, so they have to solve the problem differently hence the "supercomputer" requirements.
I know, I am fun and very popular at parties. I'll see myself out, thanks.