Uber getting involved in autonomous cars makes absolutely zero business sense. Their entire business model is based on an asset-light utilization of vehicles owned by the people that drive for them. They are basically a middle-man matching and scheduling taxi service.
Uber is a software middleman dependent on utilizing vehicles and smartphones owned by others. Once the smartphone and (autonomous) vehicles start being produced by the same companies (Alphabet, Apple, etc), then there is no more need for Uber -- ridesharing is trivial compared to autonomous vehicies
So Uber eneeds to look like its developing autonomous vehicles in order to keep the hype up prior to its IPO.