The promising advancements in the telecommunications and automotive sectors over the years have empowered drivers with highly innovative communication and sensing capabilities, in turn paving the way for the next-generation connected and autonomous vehicles. Today, vehicles communicate wirelessly with other vehicles and vulnerable pedestrians in their immediate vicinity to share timely safety-critical information primarily for collision mitigation. Furthermore, vehicles connect with the traffic management entities via their supporting network infrastructure to become more aware of any potential hazards on the roads and for guidance pertinent to their current and anticipated speeds and travelling course to ensure more efficient traffic flows. Therefore, a secure and low-latency communication is highly indispensable in order to meet the stringent performance requirements of such safety-critical vehicular applications. However, the heterogeneity of diverse radio access technologies and inflexibility in their deployment results in network fragmentation and inefficient resource utilization, and these, therefore, act as bottlenecks in realizing the aims for a highly efficient vehicular networking architecture. In order to overcome such sorts of bottlenecks, this article brings forth the current state-of-the-art in the context of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and subsequently proposes a software-defined heterogeneous vehicular networking (SDHVNet) architecture for ensuring a highly agile networking infrastructure to ensure rapid network innovation on-demand. Finally, a number of potential architectural challenges and their probable solutions are discussed.
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