Drones have shifted from military domain to toys and are filling all the space in between! There are drones to follow your kid as he goes to school, other being used by artists to paint graffiti in otherwise unreachable places, others that can videotape your wedding from and unusual point of view...
Drones are rapidly becoming sensors in the sky, with commercial applications ranging from agriculture to real estate, from engineering/constructions to oil and gas exploration... They harvest data and connect to the cloud.
This connection to the Cloud is transforming them into a part of the Internet. And, indeed, they are starting to have the kind of processing power that enables platforms in the sky. Some of them are already running Linux with a 1GHz processor packaged for under 1,000$ and used for sophisticated flight control with computer vision technologies. And they are evolving further into AI flying platforms packing in even more powerful processing power at lower and lower cost (we should have powerful AI flying platform for less than 500$ by 2017).
Consortia, like Dronecode, are working on open interfaces to stimulate the growth of applications and industry is getting involved.
Within this next 3 years (2016-2018) we can expect drones powered by chips like Snapdragon. These chips are now part of our high end smart phones, packaging a processing power comparing to the one of supercomputers in the 90ties.
This increasing processing capacity will support more sophisticated vision and avoidance control features that in turns enable better data gathering. Software companies will be integrating drones in their data portfolio. Autodesk, Google, SAP, Salesforce have already their eyes onto leveraging drones harvested data into their Analytics products.